Dear Abbey...European Adventure, Day 3
LONDON, England—Finally mostly recovered from the lingering effects of jet lag, we actually got ourselves up early this morning to attend a Sunday morning service at Westminster Abbey. The Sung Matins service (choral morning prayers) was scheduled for 10 a.m., so we opted for an 8:30 departure from the apartment, thinking we'd arrive around 9:00. We did not. Trains were not running as often this morning as on weekdays, so we didn't arrive at the church until about 9:15, expecting to see a long line of tourists waiting to enter.
|Westminster Abbey (photo from Wikimedia)|
|Westminster Abbey Quire (photo by www.paradoxplace.com)|
Unfamiliar with quire as an architectural feature and thinking we were being offered a chance to sit (and sing!) in the choir at a primarily choral service, we opted for the chairs. So did the vast majority of the 200 or so who attended the service. As it turned out, the choir part was very ably performed by the Westminster Abbey choir. At this service, the group included both men and the group of 30 or so boys who attend the Westminster Abbey Choir School. With the young boys singing soprano, this gave a full range of voices.
Located just behind the abbey, Westminster Abbey Choir School (founded in 1560) is an exclusive preparatory boarding school which educates about 30 boys, aged 8–13, who sing in the abbey's choir. In addition to daily services at Westminster, the choir performs concerts around the world.
|Dr. Jane Hedges|
Following the awe-inspiring experience of the service, we had time to wander around the parts of the abbey that were open today. Founded in the year 960, Westminster Abbey has a long history. Benedictine monks first came to the site in the middle of the tenth century, and the abbey has been the coronation church for English monarchs since 1066. It is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs, in addition to many of the nation’s most influential figures, including playwrights, poets, scientists and statesmen. More than 3,000 people are interred within Westminster Abbey, and markers can be found everywhere from the floor to the walls of the sanctuary. Reading the epitaphs often reveals much about the deceased—or what the person who ordered the stone thought of the person.
|Epitaph of the much admired Thomas Smith|
|Our magic carpet for an overview of the city|
The tube returned us to our Holland Park station, and our walk to the apartment took us past the neighborhood Starbucks and Tesco grocery store, where we picked up supplies for dinner. This is a pattern we often follow as we travel—lunch out and dinner in. Having lunch in a local restaurant breaks up the day and is usually far more economical than dinner in even the same restaurant would be.
With the bus ride today, we covered only two and a half miles on foot, but it was certainly enough to prepare us for a good night's rest.
Ms. Magnolia's Manners Tip of the Day:
"Be quiet and be still during church service, and do not chew gum. You know your mama taught you better."
More Photos from Today
|More than 16,000 participated in today's half-marathon through city parks and streets.|
|Inside the Westminster Abbey cloister, the burial place of Gilbert Crispin, abbot, who died in 1117|
|Sculpture from Westminster Abbey's Chapter House|
|View of the Abbey from the Cloister|
|Ceiling of the Chapter House, which dates from the 1250s, where monks met daily to read a chapter from Benedictine manual|
|Stained glass windows in the Chapter House, replaced after WWII bombing damage|
|Dating from the 1050s, the oldest door in Britain in the Chapter House vestibule|
|Typical of English pubs, one checks the menu and places an order at the bar in The Feathers.|
|Note St. Paul's dome rivals skyscraper heights|
|Westminster Abbey choir in the quire, facing the high altar (from Westminster-abbey.org)|