Eddie Saint-Jean is an arts and culture writer and editor of London-focused magazine WHLondon. He’s a London expert who writes articles and guides about the capital’s historic and cultural attractions and author of London Art in Review and The LONDON BOOK of Churches.
Also, writer of Crown and Parliament, which is not solely a constitutional history book or photo book but combines both. It covers the 45 seismic days from the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, to the departure of Liz Truss, it’s shortest-serving PM. And, of course, the appointment of Rishi Sunak, the UK’s first Indian-origin PM and its youngest since Lord Liverpool in 1812.
Eddie Saint-Jean’s LONDON BOOK series covers the capital’s arts, culture and heritage.
Westminster Abbey is Britain’s most famous place of worship and has 1,000 years of history as the coronation and burial site for the nation’s kings and queens. Also, many distinguished political figures, scientists, writers and artists have been buried here. Amongst them, Charles Dickens, Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Laurence Olivier and Stephen Hawking.
The Coronation Chair is kept in St George’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey and has been used in coronation ceremonies for Britain’s monarchs since 1066 AD. As you can guess, it’s a priceless heritage item and one of the most well-guarded pieces of furniture in the UK (if not the world). But in 1950, some disgruntled Scottish students stole the Stone of Scone which is kept under the chair. It’s actually a Scottish stone! Taken from the Scots by English monarch Edward I in 1296.
And did you know Oliver Cromwell refused to be ‘coronated’ in Westminster Abbey but had the Coronation Chair moved from the Abbey to Westminster Hall for the ceremony?
The oldest room in London (the Pyx Chamber above) and the oldest door in the UK are both located in the East Cloisters section of Westminster Abbey. This door pre-dates the reign of William the Conqueror! Also, the Abbey Gardens (again located in the Cloisters) are the oldest in England.
Around 1.5 million people a year visit Westminster Abbey. Back in 2011-2013, visitor numbers were around the 2 million mark but dropped significantly during the pandemic. However, numbers are now picking up again after the Queen’s State Funeral spiked interest.
Look out for my series of LONDON BOOKS on the capital’s arts, culture, heritage – also nature spots and attractions.