Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom’s most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England “Royal Peculiar”—a church responsible directly to the sovereign. According to a tradition first reported by Sulcard in about 1080, a church was founded at the site (then known as Thorn Ey (Thorn Island)) in the seventh century, at the time of Mellitus, a Bishop of London. Construction of the present church began in 1245, on the orders of King Henry III.
The Chapter House in the East Cloister was a meeting place where the monks gathered with the abbot to ‘hold chapter’: to pray, read from the rule of St Benedict, discuss the day’s business and when the abbot decided on punishments. It was probably begun in 1246 and completed around 1255 as part of Henry III’s re-building of the Abbey and is one of the largest of its kind (internally 18 metres or 60 feet). It is octagonal in shape with tiered seating for up to eighty monks and an imposing central pillar, fanning out to a vaulted ceiling.
WESTMINSTER ABBEY. (Interior)
Originally established by Edward the Confessor, 1049-65 rebuilt by Henry III, and Edward I. All England’s Kings and Queens have been crowned in the Abbey, and the Nations most celebrated men are interred here as the last and greatest honour which can be paid them.