Oh Westminster Abbey…I Can’t Believe You Disappointed Me

Have you ever been so excited to be visiting a place that you’ve wanted to see for a long time ….and then been terribly let down when you finally got that chance? Such was the case a few weeks ago when I visited Westminster Abbey. What?!? Westminster Abbey you say. I know, I know.  All that history. The coronations. The tombs of kings and queens from hundreds of years. Poet’s corner. Another stop on the UNESCO list as I work towards my UNESCO goal. The place where Will and Kate were married for Pete’s sake! (And yes, I *may* have even squealed a little with delight as we were about to enter and said “This is where Will and Kate got married!!” to which the kiddo and L just kind of shook their heads). It seemed to have all the ingredients for a place I’d love. But alas, Westminster Abbey just did not do it for me.

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I guess it’s inevitable that you’ll visit places that aren’t really to your liking after a while, especially if you’ve been fortunate and have done some traveling.  I just didn’t expect that place would be Westminster Abbey. Maybe I had it built up too much in my mind? Maybe I should have done a little more research beforehand so I would know what to expect? Or maybe more people are as disappointed with it as me but just don’t say it? L dubbed it “Westminster Crappy”. Maybe there are others that feel the same as us?

It wasn’t all bad for me. From the outside I still think it is absolutely spectacular and I have photo after photo to show for my love of the exterior. Every visit to London finds me taking more photos of it from every angle possible to capture all the architectural details. I do appreciate the history that has unfolded there over the centuries. And the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior is something everyone should see and take a moment to reflect. Buried here is an unknown British soldier that died on the battlefield in WWI and is now buried “among the kings” to represent the hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth soldiers who died in the war.

Tomb of the Unknown Warrior (photo by L)
Tomb of the Unknown Warrior (photo by L)

The rest of the interior of the abbey,  well that’s a whole other story.

It started with the quite steep (at least I thought so) entry fee of £18 per adult which is about $30 each. With two adults the kiddo was free so there was a little break there. Then, and this is increasingly becoming my pet peeve, they ask you not to take photos inside (yes we sneaked the one above. Rebels I tell ya). But why not? I can understand no flash photos but now it seems like more and more places are just saying no to photos all together. Does anyone else find this as frustrating as we do?  So with the ‘no photo’ rule I can’t show you exactly what it was that had me scrunching up my forehead as I thought to myself “Hmmm….not really what I was hoping for here”.

Inside it was very dusty with cobwebs and everything just seemed to be all higgledy-piggledy with tombs crammed in little chapels, along the walls, and in the corners, seemingly without thought or order. There are so many important figures from throughout history buried here (one of my faves being Elizabeth I) but I found it hard to appreciate their tombs. And then, as if there weren’t enough people buried there, they have lots of memorials for people that aren’t actually there! There really isn’t enough room for them all. I guess it was just a little too random and crowded for me, but to each his own eh? Some people will likely love it for the exact reasons I can’t. And really isn’t that one thing that is so awesome about this great world? There is something in it for everyone!

Hopefully this hasn’t come across as too negative but I just can’t give Westminster Abbey a glowing review if I’m not feeling it. Most of London I’m completely gaga over and will definitely share those places (and the accompanying gushing over them) with you too. But Westminster Abbey... well it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Like I said though, outside, I think it’s just beautiful. Check it out!

(Photo by L)
(Photo by L)

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What do you guys think? Have you been let down like me with a place that you’ve wanted to see for so long? Did you give that place a second chance? Should I give Westminster Abbey a second chance?

4 Comments

  • Can’t say that London is high on my list anyway. I know what you mean about the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior though. The Arc de Triomphe has an equivalent, and it’s a very powerful place. Danny and I spent a lot of time there, me weeping. :-/ We also really appreciated the Shoah Memorial. Incredibly moving, and very much worth the time.

    • Admittedly I didn’t initially love London from the get-go like I did Paris and I think I’ll always love Paris more…but there is a certain something about London that fascinates me now. But it wasn’t Westminster Abbey! Well not from inside anyway. :-)
      I don’t think I appreciated the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior as much as I will on my next visit to Paris (in just one month from today!) now that I have visited so many battlefields and cemeteries from WWI and WWII. I don’t know what the Shoah Memorial is so I must look that one up!

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly! I love Westminster from the outside, but I was less than impressed when I finally made it inside. At first I thought my reaction was due to crowds and admission prices, but upon further reflection, I just feel like it could be better executed somehow. I realize it’s a historical building and you can’t really change things now, but it does feel a bit chaotic – especially as compared to other locations. And I think that’s what did Westminister in for me – the comparisons. But, as you said, it’s one of those places that everyone should see at least once if possible. It is quite lovely from an architectural standpoint :)
    Out of curiosity, have you visited the Temple Church in London?

    • Oh so glad we aren’t the only ones that didn’t really care for it. I tentatively posted that thinking everyone would think I was a nutter for saying it. It is Westminster Abbey after all. :-) No, I haven’t visited the Temple Church yet. Similar to the atmosphere of Westminster or quite the opposite and I should add it to me “must see” list?

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