At the end of April 2011, London will stop. In fact, England generally and most of the United Kingdom will grind to a halt as the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton takes place at Westminster Abbey.
A magnificent sight on any day of the week, this Early English Gothic church, built in the 12th century, will that day be filled with the world’s rich and important and the likes of you and I shall not be allowed inside. Since William the Conqueror in 1066, nearly all the British Kings and Queens have been crowned here, lots of them have married here, and many of them (from Henry III in 1272 to George II in 1760) have been buried here.
There’s also a part of the abbey known as Poet’s Corner, which is full of dead literary heroes including Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens. Writers with memorials here include Shakespeare, Jane Austen and the scandalous but brilliant Lord Byron. In fact, the place is full of elaborate tombs of those important to history: Robert Peel who created the Metropolitan Police force (hence their nickname: Bobbies); Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Sir Isaac Newton and on it goes. If you want to see their faces, not just their marble memorials, head for the Abbey Museum, which is full of death masks. If you feel a little overwhelmed by the size and content of the Abbey (as perhaps Kate and William might), take a guided tour (which they probably will not). Westminster Abbey is open Monday – Saturday, with worship open to all on Sundays.