With London being the inspiration behind countless poems, we’re taking a look at Westminster Abbey and the famous Poet’s Corner.
The Gothic structure is one of the most notable religious buildings in Britain. It has its roots in the seventh century, when a church was first founded on the site. The grand structure that we see today dates back to the 1500s, whilst the two tall towers were erected between the years 1722 and 1745.
The Westminster Abbey Tour is just one of the fantastic excursions offered by London Walks. Their expert guides, extensive choice of walks and no-gimmick policy truly sets them apart from the rest.
“Westminster Abbey isn’t actually an abbey,” explains Mary Tucker, co-owner of London Walks and one of the six Westminster Abbey Tour guides. “It’s a Royal Peculiar. This means that it is responsible directly to the sovereign and answers to the British monarchy only.”
And of course, the Abbey has seen its fair share of royalty, from weddings to coronations. In fact, the church has played host to at least sixteen regal nuptials. Henry I and Richard II, both notable kings, held their ceremonies at the church.
However, before 1919, no royal had said “I will” at the Abbey for 500 years. Poet’s Corner is just one part of the fantastic Westminster Abbey Tour. It’s situated in the South Transept of the building.
“Poet’s Corner is one of the most famous spots in the abbey,” Mary points out. “It got the name Poet’s Corner because there is a high number of poets, playwrights and writers buried and commemorated there.”
Surprisingly, it was never planned to have such a section inside the Abbey:
“The first poet to be interred at the spot was Geoffrey Chaucer in 1400, but this wasn’t because of his famous writings. He was a Clerk of Works at the Palace of Westminster.”
It wasn’t until 1599, when Tudor poet Edmund Spenser requested to be buried nearby, that the tradition kicked off. Since then, celebrated wordsmiths have been memorialised and entombed in the Abbey.
Notable writers who were laid to rest in the Corner include Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling. Meanwhile, literary greats with memorials here include William Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, and even renowned Hull librarian and poet Philip Larkin.
“The entirety of the tour takes place inside the Abbey,” Mary tells us. “You will be taken around by one of our specialists and learn about the fascinating history, the architecture, the kings and queens that are buried there, and all of the coronations.”
The Westminster Abbey Tour takes place every Monday and Thursday at 10:45am. The meeting point is just outside of St. James’s Park Tube (the Broadway / Westminster Abbey exit).
Please bear in mind that there is an admission charge to enter the Abbey on top of your £10 walk ticket, but going with London Walks will get you a discount.
For the cheapest fares, no booking fees and free 4G Wi-Fi, book your trip to London with Hull Trains today.