Exploring the incredible tombs of Westminster Abbey
May 19, 2022 7:55 PM   Subscribe

History Hit brings us Dan Snow being shown around Westminster Abbey by Sir David Cannadine, and it's a history lesson, an architectural tour, and a pilgrimage all rolled into 28 minutes. Enlightening and fun!
posted by hippybear (8 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Ohhh.. that door was a tasty way to start off, I'm hooked.
posted by gwint at 8:23 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]

My sleepless, addled eyes insisted on reading that as Sir David Carradine, and I spent a moment (an oddly enjoyable one, as it turns out) being very confused.

Also, totally off topic except that it also involves exploring a fabled religious building that few get to see, I took a tour of the DC Mormon Temple today. It's currently open to the public for a brief period before being rededicated and accessible only to card carrying Mormons (no, literally, they get access cards. that have to be periodically renewed.) for at least the rest of my life. Let's just say it was not at all what I was expecting.
posted by Naberius at 9:35 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]

Exploring the Abbey was one of the best days I had in London. As I stood at Handel's tomb, I could hear a choir warming up in a rehearsal room somewhere. It was such a transcendent moment. I remember all the steps into the smaller rooms full of tombs were worn away in the middle from centuries of foot traffic. Sitting on a 1,000-year-old monk's tomb, eating my cheese and pickle sandwich from the vending cart and looking out on the courtyard where my ancestors probably cheered as Cromwell's exhumed corpse was drawn and quartered. Singing very softly in the choir stalls so as not to bother the other tourists. Checking out the effigies in the cellar. Getting choked up at seeing the statue of Martin Luther King with the 20th-century martyrs.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:15 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]

I always enjoy spending time in front of the monument to Lady Elizabeth and Joseph Nightingale.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:40 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

Alan Bennett made a BBC documentary about Westminster Abbey which you can find on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
posted by verstegan at 7:41 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

Back in 1990, I ran away from home and went to Britain. When I went into Westminster Abbey, where I had been in 1977, I wanted to see the grave of Chaucer, seen in this film but unmentioned, an author I knew of for years but never read. Why? I don’t know. But standing there I had this sort of religious experience in that I suddenly knew what was immortality. It’s leaving something tangible behind. In Chaucer’s case, his writings. And his writings, almost 600 years old, still live and still impact the lives of people. That’s immortality, being able to still have an impact after your death. I realize there are positive impacts and negative impacts, some negative impacts are really negative… But… At least in Poet’s Corner in the Abbey, there are a few people who impacted me. And yes, I did read Chaucer.
posted by njohnson23 at 12:48 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]

Back in pre-plague times, Mark Rylance, Claire van Kampen and the Globe did an annual show around Shakespeare's birthday for a few years called Shakespeare Within The Abbey. You'd wander around the Abbey and there would be actors performing scenes, sonnets and speeches in the various side chapels and open spaces. As long as I live, I will nevereverever forget Rylance, dressed in white, speaking Richard II's prison speech in the tiny chapel that contains the tomb that contains his bones.

(This blog review is from the second year, but gives a good impression of what it was like)

And yes, I love that old door! Love old woodwork and metalwork in general-- it's so underrated next to other antiquities, but it just stays there, quietly and faithfully doing its job.

Less reverently, a memorable previous FPP on the occasion of the royal wedding in 2011:

How is abbey formed?
How is abbey formed?
How girl get regnant?

posted by Pallas Athena at 3:11 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]

I went to Westminster Abbey about five weeks ago. It's an incredible experience and if I'm ever in London again I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. If you are visiting, it is worth it to pay extra for access to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries, if only for the opportunity to view the Abbey from the upper levels.
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:09 PM on May 20

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