A site of daily worship since the mid 10th century with the arrival of Benedictine Monks, the original church and monastery were consecrated by Edward the Confessor in 1065, one week before his death. Henry III pulled down the original church to begin building the current Abbey in the gothic style in 1245 which was completed by Richard II in 1388. A ‘Royal Peculiar’ the Abbey is subject only to the direct governance of the Sovereign and exempt from the jurisdiction of any bishop or archbishop. Many famous people have been buried here, including; naturalist Charles Darwin, novelist Charles Dickens and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton. Memorials dot the Abbey grounds with tablets dedicated to writers Jane Austen and Lewis Carroll in Poet’s Corner and a memorial stone commemorating Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill sitting just inside the West entrance. The Abbey has strong ties to the British Royal Family with 17 monarchs buried here. Many today will know it as host for Royal weddings with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married here on April 29, 2011 in front of 1,900 guests. However, this is not the first Royal Wedding to be held in the Abbey, it has seen sixteen royal weddings throughout the years. The Abbey has been the setting for every Coronation since 1066. On 2 July 1953 Queen Elizabeth had her coronation ceremony, 16 months after her Father, George VI, died. Wearing a silver dress embroidered with emblems of each country of the Commonwealth, it was the beginning of the world’s longest reign by a monarch.
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