Westminster Abbey Tour

This walk is temporarily suspended. We hope to bring it back soon but in the meantime why not read all about it to whet your appetite!

St. James' Park underground station, London (Westminster Abbey/Broadway exit, opposite 40 Broadway)

Guided by Brian or Chris or Gillian or Hilary or Mary or Tom

Please note

You must reserve your place online for this walk. Select your date and time on the table below.

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
Monday Weekly 10.30 am 12.30 pm Winter Reserve Online
Saturday Weekly 10.15 am 12.15 pm Winter Reserve Online
7 November 2020 Special 10.15 am 12.15 pm Winter Reserve Online
9 November 2020 Special 10.30 am 12.30 pm Winter Reserve Online
14 November 2020 Special 10.15 am 12.15 pm Winter Reserve Online
16 November 2020 Special 10.30 am 12.30 pm Winter Reserve Online
21 November 2020 Special 10.15 am 12.15 pm Winter Reserve Online
23 November 2020 Special 10.30 am 12.30 pm Winter Reserve Online
28 November 2020 Special 10.15 am 12.15 pm Winter Reserve Online
30 November 2020 Special 10.30 am 12.30 pm Winter Reserve Online
5 December 2020 Special 10.15 am 12.15 pm Winter Reserve Online
7 December 2020 Special 10.30 am 12.30 pm Winter Reserve Online
12 December 2020 Special 10.15 am 12.15 pm Winter Reserve Online
14 December 2020 Special 10.30 am 12.30 pm Winter Reserve Online
19 December 2020 Special 10.15 am 12.15 pm Winter Reserve Online
21 December 2020 Special 10.30 am 12.30 pm Winter Reserve Online

Simple, really. Westminster Abbey. England’s greatest building. Microcosm of the nation’s history. House of Kings and Queens. Coronations, cloisters and college gardens. Royal weddings and royal tombs. Edward the Confessor to Prince William. Seen whole. Seen closer. Seen better. Seen memorably.

Fast track. Privileged access. Group rate. Award-winning Blue Badge guide.

“Whoever travels without a guide needs 200 years for a two-day journey” – Rumi

Westminster Abbey Tour Practicals

When: every Monday at 10.30 am (from Monday, October 26) and every Saturday at 10.15 am (from Saturday, October 31)

Meeting point: St. James’ Park Tube, Westminster Abbey/Broadway exit (opposite 40 Broadway)

Price: £35 for adults; £15 for children. N.B. there is no discount for

The price covers:

  • The guide’s fee
  • Admission to Westminster Abbey

Does it have to be booked? Yes

Restricted numbers: Yes! A maximum of five people per group.

Itinerary

A rare opportunity to experience a quiet Westminster Abbey. Experience a fast-tracked guided tour of the Abbey in a very small group with first-class blue badge guides. And you can enjoy sightseeing whilst taking photographs. We meet at St James Tube – from there it’s the quickest, quietest and most visually appealing approach to The Abbey. As the iconic West Front comes into full view the initial reaction is, ‘wow’. And there it is – one of the greatest Christian sites in the world, monumental witness in Parliament Square to over a thousand years of English and British history. No other building in Britain is so deeply set in the soul of the nation.

Walking to the North Front entrance the setting is immediately striking. Nearby are The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the United Kingdom Supreme Court. Down the road, St James’ Park and Buckingham Palace. Across the square, the river Thames. Right next to us, the church of St Margaret’s. This is truly where church and civil power have jostled side by side.

And then we’re in.

The most wondrous space in England. Ahead, the soaring gothic transepts; here, a view to the spiritual heart of the Abbey; at our feet, the final resting place of the Unknown Warrior; before us, past the glorious Purbeck marble columns, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking. Beyond the screen, the Quire and High Altar, a place of worship, the very site of Coronations, Royal Weddings, Grand and National Services. Queen Elizabeth II crowned, the funeral of Diana, the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. To the side, a new stained glass window for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Ahead, the Shrine of Saint Edward the Confessor. Around him, medieval kings and queens. The Builder King Henry III, ‘Hammer of the Scots” King Edward I.

Still further East, the glorious Tudor Henry VII Lady Chapel. The echoes of the ages, intimations of eternity, resting place of both Tudor and Stuart dynasties. Here, the royal tombs of Elizabeth I, her half sister Mary I and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots. Past the feet of Henry V to Poets’ Corner, the blazing comet of English Literature,  Chaucer to Jane Austen, to a favourite of Queen Victoria , Charles Dickens. Statues of William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth. Out to the Cloisters walked by generations of monks, the sublime Chapter House adorned with medieval wall paintings where they met, the Pyx Chamber and Norman Undercroft already here in the reign of William I. Back in the Abbey passing The Coronation Chair, to reflect on this People’s House of Kings. One building. One extraordinary continuous history.

And it’s not just what we see it’s how we see it.

For example, the guide’s directing your eye so you see how the grey Purbeck Henry III columns were expressly designed to contrast with the cream-coloured Caen stone.

And how when we step into the cloister we’re in a London that was here hundreds of years before Dickens when monks spent worshipped and worked here .

And observe the current daily life of the Abbey. It’s community led by the Dean, the clergy some of whom live near the College Garden, the Vergers who enable the smooth running of daily worship, the Marshalls in red gowns and the volunteers who give their time knowing how very extraordinary the Abbey is.

And take on board that we’re looking at the single most eclectic and important group of medieval, gothic and Tudor tombs in England.

And how the understated Belgian marble – at once commonplace and numinous – that marks the Unknown Warrior’s final resting place typifies the Abbey, surrounded by blood-red poppies.

And what it’s like to gaze on King Henry III’s mosaics, perhaps the finest achievement of his Abbey.

And how the Abbey was a triumph of geometry and stone cutting…the way the extensive use of flying buttresses enabled the architects to replace the walls by a series of stained glass windows.

And what it was like to look down upon the scene, the self-same spot, that has seen the crowning of the kings and queens, from Elizabeth II and Victoria right back to William the Conqueror. And will, one day, see the crowning of William and Kate Middleton.

At the end of your guided tour of the Abbey, if you want more sightseeing, well, you’re in London SW1P 3PA – the centre of the action. Parliament Square, Big Ben (Queen Elizabeth Tower), the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Hall are right there. As is the River Thames, where you can catch a boat to William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Tower of London and Greenwich. Or take a red bus tour up Whitehall, past The Cenotaph, Downing Street, Banqueting House and Horse Guards to Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and the Half Price TKTS booth in Leicester Square.

Frequently Asked Questions

Westminster Abbey – how long needed for the visit?

Two hours

Why is Westminster Abbey important?

20 reasons enough?

  1. Ultra rosa flow florum, sic est domus ista domorum – As the rose is the flower of flowers, so this House is the house of houses.
  2. It is the unique and priceless treasure of the English-speaking race.
  3. It exhibits, to the perceptive eye, the record of the nation’s whole cultural life.
  4. It is not just the most famous church in the English speaking world, it’s also a microcosm of the history of our people, the changes and revolutions, the memories of a millennium.
  5. It is a house of God and a house of kings
  6. It is England’s greatest building
  7. It is a work of art of the highest order, but is also intimately linked with a thousand years of English history.
  8. It is a place of national significance and global reach, a place of worship, a pantheon of the great and the good, the church most closely connected to the monarchy, central to the life of the nation.
  9. It is a mausoleum of British greatness.
  10. It is a focus of national identity.
  11. It is a royal peculiar and peculiarly royal.
  12. It is the noblest building ever raised by Englishmen.
  13. It is the heart and soul of the English speaking world.
  14. Westminster Abbey – in Westminster Abbey you walk through antiquity.
  15. It is the place that brought together the monarchy, the nation and the empire.
  16. It is the pre-eminent focus for royal ceremonial and public events at the heart of the capital.
  17. It is the epitome of ceremonial ‘Englishness’
  18. It embodies continuity since before the Norman Conquest until the present day.
  19. It is miraculum orbis universali – the wonder of the entire world
  20. “Here you have the history of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, and of the whole English-speaking world” President Barack Obama

Do we visit the Lady Chapel?

Yes. Not just visit. We tour it in detail. It’s one of the great masterpieces of the Abbey.

Why not just take the Audio Guide?

  1. The Audio Guide is barely 20 minutes long
  2. How do you ask an Audio Guide a question?
  3. If you can afford the best, why wouldn’t you? Especially in the Abbey, the only English church where the sheer reach of power is consciously put on display. The ability to pick and choose and to afford the best, is a sign of the ultimate freedom of power – even unto the tiny, personal matter of choosing how you’re going to be guided, how you’re going to see the Abbey.

Can I use my London Pass?

N/A at the moment. TBA (i.e., everything is up in the air at the moment). If the Abbey OKs it and the London Pass is fully operational again the answer will be yes, of course

Why do we have to book?

It’s the only way you’ll get to go on the Abbey tour. Mandatory booking has come about because of the Abbey’s strict limitation on group size (maximum of five people). And because of Covid track and trace protocol.

Do you do any discounts?

Unfortunately the Abbey no longer – because of Covid – does a group rate; when it did we obviously took advantage of same and passed that saving along to our groups. But, alas, those days are no more (for the time being). There is, though, a considerable upside to the new “arrangements.” The days of the tourist crush – of hordes of people in the Abbey – are bygone. You will be part of that very small group – a maximum of five people plus your guide – so you are in effect getting a private tour for a small fraction of what you’d normally pay for same. Lots more individual attention, much more opportunity and scope for questions and of course it’s worlds safer; it’s easy to observe social distance when there are just five of you. And we do still get to “fast track.” Bog standard tourists have to queue – we never do, we always get to sail right in. That’s a big plus.

Want a great recommendation?

If the weather’s nice and you fancy a special add-on to the tour take the Tube to Green Park Tube. Walk across Green Park. Cross The Mall. Walk through St. James’s Park. Walk across the Blue Bridge (it’ll give you the most romantic views in London: west to Buckingham Palace, east to Horse Guards & the Foreign Office). Exit the park. Walk along Queen Anne’s Gate to St. James’s Park Tube. *Allow plenty of time – an extra half hour.

Reviews

“My aunt and I took a 4 hour walking tour of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, and it was fantastic. London Walks were punctual and well organised. We enter the Abbey around the back, avoiding the massive queues. Nick was our guide and he was great. Not only did he know all about Westminster Abbey, but his knowledge of English history was outstanding, and he answered any questions could throw at him. :)”  Tkellys, Adelaide, Australia  TripAdvisor 2019

“London Walks was an awesome way to see the Abbey, learn about its history, and explore all the details while knowing what I’m looking at!”  Rachelenius, London, United Kingdom  TripAdvisor 2019

“We took the Westminster Abbey tour with Mary who was so well informed and entertaining. We had a large group to begin however they split the group in 2 which was great. We did not need to stand in line to buy tickets to the Abbey as they collect the fee (which is already a discount from the regular entrance price) when you meet up and you then ‘skip the line’ as well as get a discounted entrance ticket. It was so interesting and the time spent inside was perfect. They do such a great job. I would definitely try more of the walks offered by this company based on this tour.”  Lise C., Montreal, Canada  TripAdvisor 2019

“Mary was our very knowledgeable guide for a thorough and interesting tour of Westminster Abbey. No waiting to purchase tickets, and you skip the entrance line. We learned far more than we would have on our own. Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch in the Cellarium Cafe on the sunny terrace. Ellen H. DC  TripAdvisor 2019

“Highly recommend London Walks! Wish we discovered them sooner. We took 3 excellent walking tours (approximately 2 hours). The Old City, Kensington area and Westminster Abbey. These guides are professionals. Stay away from the ‘free’ walking tours. London Walks are the very best. Can’t say enough positive. Will never do the hop on/hop off again. Way more infor from these walking tours! I would also recommend to consider tipping the guide even 1-2 pounds pp. Not mandatory & they don’t even ask or suggest it, but a thoughtful thank you given they really know their info and are personable. This is definitely a professional guide service so don’t hesitate. Wish we knew sooner. We would’ve taken many more!” Lauri J  London, Ontario  TripAdvisor 2019

“The Westminster Abbey tour was excellent. I learned a lot that I would have missed otherwise. And you get a discounted ticket and don’t have to wait in line.”  Jill B  Traverse City, Michigan  TripAdvisor 2019

“I have recently done the Westminster Abbey visit, which was fantastic! Apart from skipping queuing, our tour guide was also incredibly good: knowledgeable, easy to follow her explanations, giving us just the right amount of information we needed, to enjoy this magnificent building from inside. Afterwards we could stay inside and wander around along, climb the tower, and have a lovely lunch in the cafe, before leaving it. I would recommend London Walks for every tour, as we have been to many, many over the years, and ALL were excellent.” Friendlytraveller Canterbury TripAdvisor 2019

“My family took two London Walks tours on our recent visit and both were terrific: the Westminster Abbey tour, and the Square Mile tour… Looking back, I can’t really fathom going into Westminster Abbey without the tour, I would have missed so much. Wish I had taken more of their tours.”   jenbjorhus  Saint Paul, Minnesota  TripAdvisor 2019

“I would give MORE THAN 5 to Mary, our cute guide at Westminster Abbey Tour! Amazing guide, high voice volume in a huge Abbey full of echoes, very funny and friendly, made our tour to the Abbey epic! In general, try London Walks! Absolutely! Especially if you don’t have enough time in London! They are really the pros!  Xplotiva  TripAdvisor  2018

“The Westminster Abbey Tour was spectacular. Tom was our guide. He made the tour a memorable one. It was a seamless experience from start to finish. It was captivating with interspersed humour. He also points out historical comments relative to the tour group. Highly recommend this tour.”  82donnag  Godfrey, Canada  TripAdvisor 2018

“The first was Westminster Abbey with Brian. It was mind blowing how much he knew about the place – all the names, dates and details you could think of. I think I would have missed a lot without his guidance. I visited London because of all the rich history, so this was fantastic. Highly recommended.”  79caseyh  Alexandria, Virginia  TripAdvisor 2017

“Best group tour in London. I have attended several walks over a 10-year period with London Walks. Each walk has featured fascinating commentary shared by an enthusiastic, witty, knowledgeable guide. My family of four (kids ages 12 & 16) recently attended a Westminster Abbey tour with Tom. I have been inside Westminster Abbey many times. Tom gave some information that I did not know, keeping my tour fresh. Tom’s humour allowed us to have a good-natured laugh at history and humanity, but, by inviting us ‘in on the joke,’ I felt more of a kinship to real people of the past. My children were also intrigued throughout the two-hour tour. It takes a special guide to captivate a wide range of people – strangers of various ages and nationalities who come together for just a few hours. And Tom was able to do so. Next time I’m in London, I will not hesitate taking yet another London Walks tour. Their pricing is a steal! Your Walks guide will pay in your behalf to skip the long entrance line.”  TravelSavvyMomAZ  Phoenix, Arizona  TripAdvisor 2017

“London Walks, best tourist deal in London. The London Walks are amazing. Instead of wandering aimlessly through the fantastic sights we went with London Walks. This was not our first trip to London but having a knowledgeable guide makes the town come to life. The tour of Westminster Abbey was an example of going past the long lines through the back door with a guide pointing out the highlights all along the way, plus getting a discount on the admission. My husband did ten of these tours. He is a history buff and was dazzled by the knowledge base of the tour guides.”  wheatie8  Olympia, Washington  TripAdvisor 2015

“Westminster Abbey tour. Excellent, incredibly knowledgeable guide with great wit. I would recommend this Abbey tour wholeheartedly and it costs barely more than entrance to the Abbey.”  catinthehat48  Charlottetown  TripAdvisor 2015

“Westminster Abbey walk – what may have been a very solemn walk turned into an uproariously funny and irreverent one. I was hoping that this guided walking tour wouldn’t be like the ones I have gone on in the US. And it wasn’t. Brian, our guide on that day/walk, looked/sounded quite intimidating as he collected the money at one of the exits of Westminster Tube station. But first impressions are misleading. That guy is really a cutie pie – has a treasure trove of information nicely tucked away under his bald head, loves to perform, has a way with words, could make money being a stand-up comedian and knows his history. A lovely walk – I started the day not particularly feeling light – after the walk, I felt terrific – inspired, cheerful and full of beans myself.”  Sunil B  London, United Kingdom  TripAdvisor 2014

What the guide says

Mine eyes have seen the glory… The Abbey is England in microcosm. Royal weddings. A great religious centre. The place where kings and queens are crowned and often buried. The reason London is “the unique city.” The seed-bed of democratic government. The driving force of English music. A building of splendour, intricacy and consummate virtuosity. The world’s finest stone roof. The greatest work of mediaeval art in Britain. The most splendid Renaissance tomb north of the Alps. Priceless 13th-century wall paintings. Monumental sculpture and memorial tablets that are a tableau of national biography.