Outstanding Universal Value
The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church lie next to the River Thames in the heart of London. With their intricate silhouettes, they have symbolised monarchy, religion and power since Edward the Confessor built his palace and church on Thorney Island in the 11th century AD. Changing through the centuries together, they represent the journey from a feudal society to a modern democracy and show the intertwined history of church, monarchy and state.
The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church continue in their original functions and play a pivotal role in society and government, with the Abbey being the place where monarchs are crowned, married and buried. It is also a focus for national memorials of those who have served their country, whether prominent individuals or representatives, such as the tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The Abbey, a place of worship for over 1000 years, maintains the daily cycle of worship as well as being the church where major national celebrations and cultural events are held. The Palace of Westminster continues to be the seat of Parliament.
Westminster School can trace its origins back to 1178 and was re-founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1560. It is located around Little Dean’s Yard.
The iconic silhouette of the ensemble is an intrinsic part of its identity, which is recognised internationally with the sound of “Big Ben” being broadcast regularly around the world.
The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret's Church together encapsulate the history of one of the most ancient parliamentary monarchies of present times and the growth of parliamentary and constitutional institutions.
In tangible form, Westminster Abbey is a striking example of the successive phases of English Gothic art and architecture and the inspiration for the work of Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin on the Palace of Westminster.
The Palace of Westminster illustrates in colossal form the grandeur of constitutional monarchy and the principle of the bicameral parliamentary system, as envisaged in the 19th century, constructed through English architectural references to show the national character.
The Palace is one of the most significant monuments of neo-Gothic architecture, as an outstanding, coherent and complete example of neo-Gothic style. Westminster Hall is a key monument of the Perpendicular style and its admirable oak roof is one of the greatest achievements of medieval construction in wood. Westminster is a place in which great historical events have taken place that shaped the English and British nations.
The church of St Margaret, a charming perpendicular style construction, continues to be the parish church of the Palace of Westminster and has been the place of worship of the Speaker and the House of Commons since 1614 and is an integral part of the complex.
Criterion (i): Westminster Abbey is a unique artistic construction representing a striking sequence of the successive phases of English Gothic art.
Criterion (ii): Other than its influence on English architecture during the Middle Ages, the Abbey has played another leading role by influencing the work of Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin in Westminster Palace, in the "Gothic Revival" of the 19th century.
Criterion (iv): The Abbey, the Palace, and St Margaret's illustrate in a concrete way the specificities of parliamentary monarchy over a period of time as long as nine centuries. Whether one looks at the royal tombs, the Chapter House, the remarkable vastness of Westminster Hall, of the House of Lords, or of the House of Commons, art is everywhere present and harmonious, making a veritable museum of the history of the United Kingdom.
The property contains the key attributes necessary to convey its Outstanding Universal Value. In 2008 a minor boundary modification was approved to join the existing component parts of the property into a single ensemble, by including the portion of the road which separated them. There are associated attributes outside the boundary, which could be considered for inclusion in the future, and this will be examined during the next Management Plan review.
The instantly recognisable location and setting of the property in the centre of London, next to the River Thames, are an essential part of the property’s importance. This place has been a centre of government and religion since the days of King Edward the Confessor in the 11th century and its historical importance is emphasised by the buildings’ size and dominance. Their intricate architectural form can be appreciated against the sky and make a unique contribution to the London skyline.
The distinctive skyline is still prominent and recognisable despite the presence of a few tall buildings as part of the property. The most prominent of these, Milbank Tower and to some extent Centre Point - now protected in their own right - were both extant at the time of inscription. However important views of the property are vulnerable to development projects for tall buildings. Discussions have begun and are ongoing on how to ensure that the skyline of the property and its overall prominence is sustained, and key views into, within and out of the property are conserved. The main challenge is agreeing on a mechanism to define and give protection to its wider setting. Until agreement can be reached on this, the integrity of the site is under threat.
The buildings are all in their original use and are well maintained to a high standard. There has been little change to the buildings since the time of inscription although external repairs continue and security measures have been installed at the Palace of Westminster.
The heavy volume of traffic in the roads around the property does impact adversely on its internal coherence and on its integrity as a single entity.
The power and dominance of state religion, monarchy and the parliamentary system is represented tangibly by the location of the buildings in the heart of London next to the River Thames, by the size of the buildings, their intricate architectural design and embellishment and the high quality materials used. The Palace of Westminster, the clock tower and “Big Ben’s” distinctive sound have become internationally recognised symbols of Britain and democracy. All the buildings maintain high authenticity in their materials and substance as well as in their form and design.
The property maintains its principal historic uses and functions effectively. The Gothic Westminster Abbey, a working church, continues to be used as a place of daily worship. It remains the Coronation church of the nation and there are frequent services to mark significant national events as well as royal weddings and funerals and for great national services. Many great British writers, artists, politicians and scientists are buried or memorialised here. The Palace of Westminster continues to be used as the seat of the United Kingdom’s two-chamber system of democracy. St Margaret’s Church, now part of Westminster Abbey, remains at heart a medieval parish church, ministering to Members of both Houses of Parliament.
Protection and management requirements
The UK Government protects World Heritage properties in England in two ways. Firstly individual buildings, monuments and landscapes are designated under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, and the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act and secondly through the UK Spatial Planning system under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Acts. The individual sites within the property are protected as Listed Buildings and Scheduled Ancient Monuments.
Government guidance on protecting the Historic Environment and World Heritage is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and Circular 07/09. Policies to protect, promote, conserve and enhance World Heritage properties, their settings and buffer zones are also found in statutory planning documents. Policies to ensure this can be found in statutory planning documents, which are reviewed and publicly consulted upon on a regular cycle.
The Mayor’s London Plan provides a strategic social, economic, transport and environmental framework for London and its future development over the next 20-25 years and is reviewed regularly. It contains policies to protect and enhance the historic environment, including World Heritage properties. Further guidance is set out in London’s World Heritage Sites – Guidance on Setting, and The London View Management Framework Supplementary Planning Guidance provides guidance on the protection of important designated views. It includes 10 views of the Westminster World Heritage property including a view looking from Parliament Square towards the Palace of Westminster.
The City of Westminster also has policies in its Core Strategy to protect the historic environment generally and the property specifically. Its cross cutting policies provide for management of the historic environment and protection of important views, buildings and spaces with particular reference to the Westminster World Heritage property. Although the property is located within the City of Westminster, much of its setting covers adjoining boroughs. The neighbouring Boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth also include policies in their Local Plans for the protection of the setting of the Westminster World Heritage property.
Both Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster have Conservation Plans that put in place a comprehensive conservation maintenance regime based on regular inspection programmes. The Westminster World Heritage Site Management Plan was published by the property’s Steering Group in 2007. There is no coordinator, and implementation of key objectives is undertaken by the key stakeholders – the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and Westminster City Council - working within the Steering Group framework.
There are continuing pressures for development and regeneration in the area around the property and permission has been given for tall buildings which could adversely impact on its important views. The guidance set out in the Mayor’s Supplementary Planning Guidance on London’s World Heritage Sites – Guidance on Setting, together with the London View Management Framework, English Heritage’s Conservation Principles and Seeing the History in the View identify methodologies to which could be used to assess impacts on views and on the setting of the World Heritage property and its Outstanding Universal Value. However, there is no single, specific mechanism in place to protect the setting of the property.
As one of the most famous sites in London and a key tourist attraction, the property receives high numbers of visitors who require proactive management to minimise congestion and careful visitor management to protect the fabric and setting of the property. The protection and enhancement of the public realm and better traffic management, particularly in the quiet spaces adjacent to the property, are also important in protecting its setting. To address these issues, an overall visitor management strategy and a traffic management strategy are needed to complement the visitor management strategies of the individual stakeholders, together with greater protection of the setting of the property and its key views. Ways in which this can be achieved will be examined in the Management Plan reviews
The Abbey, a place of worship for over 1000 years, maintains the daily cycle of worship as well as being the church where major national celebrations and cultural events are held. The Palace of Westminster continues to be the seat of Parliament.What is the purpose of the Palace of Westminster? ›
The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.Do you have to pay to go into Westminster Abbey? ›
Is it free to visit Westminster Abbey? Westminster Abbey is a working church and there is never a charge to enter for worship. The services, including Evensong, which is popular with tourists, are also free to attend.Is Westminster Abbey a Catholic church? ›
Westminster Abbey stopped serving as a monastery in 1559, at roughly the same time it became an Anglican church (part of the Church of England) and formally left the Catholic hierarchy. In 1560, the church was granted “Royal Peculiar” status.Is Palace of Westminster worth visiting? ›
Don't miss this! During our recent visit to London, my wife and I (Americans) took the 90-minute guided tour of the Palace of Westminster. It was fantastic and one of the best tours we've ever taken. Our guide was excellent, imparting a wealth of information in a way that was comprehensible and interesting.What is the dress code for Westminster Abbey? ›
The dress code is NO low cut or sleeveless clothing, shorts, miniskirts, and no hats in the church. No pets are allowed on the premises - and this includes dogs walking the grounds. No picnics, biking, filming, or drones are allowed. The site is wheelchair accessible, but pre-planning is recommended.What is the purpose of a Palace? ›
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence, or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word is derived from the Latin name palātium, for Palatine Hill in Rome which housed the Imperial residences.Why is Westminster Cathedral so important? ›
Westminster Cathedral is the mother church of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. It is the largest Catholic church in the UK and the seat of the Archbishop of Westminster.What makes the Westminster Cathedral unique? ›
The cathedral is striking for its use of bands of coloured brick and stone on the exterior, its tall and eye-catching bell tower, or campanile, and the richly decorated interior, following the Byzantine tradition of mosaic and marble.Are churches free to visit in London? ›
London has many historic churches, including some that survived the Great Fire of London. Most are free to visit and provide a lovely place to rest from the noise of everyday London.
It takes about 90 minutes to two hours to explore the entire Westminster Abbey.Can you buy Westminster Abbey tickets at the door? ›
You can purchase entry tickets via our website. Holders of these tickets get priority fast track entry to the Abbey, significantly reducing queuing time. Alternatively tickets can be purchased on arrival at the North door entrance. We look forward to welcoming you to the Abbey soon.Can a Catholic marry in Westminster Abbey? ›
Nearly 1000 years of tradition dictates that the only people allowed to marry at Westminster Abbey are members of England's royal family, members of the Order of the Bath (and their children) or anyone who actually lives in the Abbey's precincts.Is Westminster Abbey high or low church? ›
|Denomination||Church of England|
|Previous denomination||Roman Catholic Church|
The Church of England (C of E) is the established Christian church in England. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the 3rd century and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.Which is the best Palace to visit in London? ›
- 1.) Kew Palace. A little less known than some other places in London, Kew Palace is not one to be missed! ...
- 2.) Winchester Palace. ...
- 3.) Buckingham Palace. ...
- 4.) Hampton Court Palace. ...
- 5.) Tower of London. ...
- 6.) Banqueting House. ...
- 7.) St James's Palace & Clarence House. ...
- 8.) Lambeth Palace.
We welcome serving clergy free of charge during visiting hours. Please come to the Great West Door entrance and speak to one of our marshals. Members of the clergy from any denomination in the UK can also apply for a church pass.Can I bring a backpack to Westminster Abbey? ›
Bags in Westminster Abbey
No backpacks or bags (other than purses) are allowed inside. There is no place to store bags at Westminster Abbey.
You can wear next to nothing evidently. I dressed appropriately, but most people in this line didn't. The line would certainly be shorter if clothing were required.Are there toilets inside Westminster Abbey? ›
Toilets. There is an accessible toilet adjacent to the standard toilets. They're located through a side door to the Abbey where you cross a small courtyard into the dedicated toilet block. A helpful attendant held the doors and pointed out the way.
A great hall is the main room of a royal palace, castle or a large manor house or hall house in the Middle Ages, and continued to be built in the country houses of the 16th and early 17th centuries, although by then the family used the great chamber for eating and relaxing.What is special about City Palace? ›
It is a unique and special complex of several courtyards, buildings, pavilions, gardens, and temples. The most prominent and most visited structures in the complex are the Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple, and the City Palace Museum.What are unique features of palaces? ›
The palaces and castles commonly built in baroque architecture, include elaborate ornate decoration, ceiling frescoes, and dramatic use of light. Later, Romanesque revival architecture includes round towers, cone-shaped roofs, low arches over arcades and doorways, columns, and pilasters with spirals and leaf designs.What is the most important church in London? ›
St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in London and is the seat of the Bishop of London. The cathedral serves as the mother church of the Diocese of London. It is on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London and is a Grade I listed building.What is the difference between St Paul's and Westminster Abbey? ›
What is the difference between St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey? St Paul's Cathedral is the principal church of the diocese of London, with a bishop and a dean leading the church. Westminster Abbey, on the other hand, started as a monastery and has always been linked with Royalty.Why are Presbyterian churches called Westminster? ›
The Westminster Confession of Faith was written in 1646 by a gathering of pastor-theologians. They met in Westminster Abbey during England's bloodiest civil war, and it is from the name of the abbey (or from the English Parliament, meeting in the city of Westminster) that the confession derives its name.What is the difference between Anglican and Catholic? ›
While the Anglican and Catholic churches are more similar, they differ in various ways. For instance, the Catholic church embraces hierarchy in the church while the Anglican church does not. Also, Catholic priests do not marry while Anglicans do.What is the most important cathedral? ›
St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy
The largest basilica in Europe, St Peter's is considered one of Roman Catholicism's holiest sites. It's the final resting place of the first Pope, Apostle Peter, as well as 91 others.
St Etheldreda's Church.
|St Etheldreda's Church, Ely Place|
Free Churches to Visit in London
St Brides and its Crypt Museum (Fleet St), built by Christopher Wren. St Paul's Church (Covent Garden) designed by Inigo Jones. The nave of Westminster Abbey is always free for worshipers, but there is a charge for visitors to the main body of the abbey.
Apart from ceremonial occasions, there is no dress code in English churches. Jeans, for example, are not the mark of the devil. You will, though, feel slightly out of place if you're untidily or dirtily dressed, and very out of place if dressed provocatively.Do you still have to wear a mask in church in England? ›
There is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering.What time of day is best to visit Westminster Abbey? ›
Westminster Abbey is open late on Wednesday evenings, which can be a great time to experience the history of the building without the push of big groups, as most tour groups and families visit during the daytime. Show up after 4:30 p.m. for half-price tickets and explore the Abbey at your own pace.Can you take pictures in Westminster Abbey? ›
1. Westminster Abbey. The Abbey's statement on prohibiting photography is typically of many churches and other sights that promote reverence: Photography is not permitted inside Westminster Abbey.How long does it take to tour Palace of Westminster? ›
Short answer: 75 minutes for a guided tour; 90 minutes for the multimedia tour. Your tour includes visits to the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and Westminster Hall.Is Westminster Abbey free on Sunday? ›
On Sundays and religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas, the Abbey is open for worship only. However, all are welcome and it is free to attend services. Westminster Abbey closes for visiting one hour after the published entry closure time, so it is recommended you give yourself plenty of time.How long does it take to see the Tower of London? ›
Most people who choose to visit the Tower of London will spend at least 15-30 minutes in line waiting to see the Crown Jewels. Plan on setting aside at least 45-60 minutes for the entire experience. Many visitors recommend setting aside at least 3 hours to see the entirety of the Tower of London.Can you see the royal tombs in Westminster Abbey? ›
A. Yes, guests can visit the tombs and burials at Westminster Abbey.Can a British prince marry a Catholic? ›
Fast forward to 2013, when a law was passed that came into effect in 2015, allowing a member of the royal family in the line of succession to marry a Roman Catholic. However, in keeping with the terms of church doctrine and history, it is still impossible for a Roman Catholic to ascend to the throne.What church did Princess Diana get married in? ›
The wedding of Prince Charles (later King Charles III) and Lady Diana Spencer took place on Wednesday, 29 July 1981, at St Paul's Cathedral in London, United Kingdom. The groom was the heir apparent to the British throne, and the bride was a member of the Spencer family.
However, it is only possible to be married at Westminster Abbey if you are any of the following; A part of The Royal Family, a member of the Order of Bath (or a children of someone in the Order) or anyone who lives within the Abbey's precincts.What is the difference between high and low Church of England? ›
In Anglican Christianity, low church refers to those who give little emphasis to ritual. The term is most often used in a liturgical sense, denoting a Protestant emphasis, whereas "high church" denotes an emphasis on ritual, often Anglo-Catholic. The term was initially pejorative.Is Westminster Abbey a Catholic or Protestant church? ›
Westminster Abbey is an Anglican Church, whereas Westminster Cathedral is a Roman Catholic one. The two buildings are separated by 400m not to mention almost 1,000 years of history, with Westminster Cathedral consecrated in 1910. Who is buried in Westminster Abbey?Why is Westminster Abbey not Catholic? ›
A 'Royal Peculiar'
Westminster Abbey stopped serving as a monastery in 1559, at roughly the same time it became an Anglican church (part of the Church of England) and formally left the Catholic hierarchy. In 1560, the church was granted “Royal Peculiar” status.
Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians pray 'to' Mary (i.e. 'invocate'). Anglican tend to pray 'with' her (i.e. 'comprecate'). With her, we pray that we may bring birth to God's word in the world.What religion is Queen Elizabeth? ›
Personal beliefs. The Queen was a committed Christian and often referred to her faith in her annual Christmas Broadcasts - the moment in the year when she was able to reflect on events and express more personal views.What is the most famous church in England? ›
Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral are two separate buildings. Westminster Abbey is an Anglican Church, whereas Westminster Cathedral is a Roman Catholic one. The two buildings are separated by 400m not to mention almost 1,000 years of history, with Westminster Cathedral consecrated in 1910.Was Westminster Abbey once a palace? ›
Although Westminster officially remained a royal palace, it was used by the two Houses of Parliament and by the various royal law courts. In February 2020 a secret door was discovered which had been built for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661. The doorway is located in the cloister behind Westminster Hall.Is the Palace of Westminster the same as Buckingham Palace? ›
Buckingham Palace, palace and London residence of the British sovereign. It is situated within the borough of Westminster. The palace takes its name from the house built (c.
And while it shares a name with the perhaps better-known Westminster Abbey where the queen was crowned, Westminster Hall has a history all of its own and is in fact nearly “the only part of the ancient Palace of Westminster which survives in almost its original form,” according to the British government.What is the difference between Westminster Abbey and St Paul's cathedral? ›
What is the difference between St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey? St Paul's Cathedral is the principal church of the diocese of London, with a bishop and a dean leading the church. Westminster Abbey, on the other hand, started as a monastery and has always been linked with Royalty.Is Westminster an affluent area? ›
Running along the Thames to the south, and with the City to the east and Kensington and Chelsea to the West, Westminster's prime location has made it one of the most expensive areas to live in London.Can you go in the Palace of Westminster? ›
The Parliamentary Archives are open again and free to access but you will need to book an appointment. Take a look inside the chambers of the House of Commons and House of Lords, as well as many other parts of the Palace of Westminster.Can we go inside Westminster Abbey? ›
Westminster Abbey is usually open to visitors from Monday to Saturday throughout the year. Opening time is 9.30am and closing time 3.30pm on Wednesdays there is late opening to 6pm.Can only royals get married in Westminster Abbey? ›
However, it is only possible to be married at Westminster Abbey if you are any of the following; A part of The Royal Family, a member of the Order of Bath (or a children of someone in the Order) or anyone who lives within the Abbey's precincts.How far apart is Windsor Castle from Buckingham Palace? ›
In Windsor, England, just 20 miles west of Buckingham Palace, is the largest, and longest occupied, castle in Europe—Windsor Castle.Which has more rooms Buckingham Palace or the White House? ›
Buckingham Palace is a massive royal residence with a total of 775 rooms, including 19 State Rooms, 52 bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms. The White House has 132 rooms, including including 16 family and guest rooms, three kitchens, and 35 bathrooms.What's the difference between Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace? ›
Buckingham Palace is the Queen's official and main royal London home, although the Queen regularly spends time at Windsor Castle and Balmoral in Scotland. Windsor Castle is an official residence of The Queen and the largest occupied castle in the world. The castle was the inspiration for the Royal family's surname.What is the difference between Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle? ›
Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world and covers an area of 13 acres. Westminster Abbey, on the other hand, is much smaller, covering just 3 acres. So, when it comes to size, Windsor Castle is definitely the winner!
Completed in 1903, Westminster Cathedral is a Catholic Cathedral like no other.Is Westminster a separate city from London? ›
Westminster is borough in London that is a city in its own right. Buckingham Palace is in both Westminster and London. The City of London refers to the old walled city back to Roman times. It's the financial district and also known as the 'Square Mile'.