Monday, July 27, 2009

Westminster Abbey

As I said in a comment recently to Gill – when I lived in London I hardly ever visited galleries, cathedrals etc, and I am only now starting to tick some of them off. It was only last year that I went to the Tate for the first time (shameful I know).

On Saturday Reidski and I made our first trip to Westminster Abbey.
It was a complete revelation. For all the times I must have seen the inside of it on the tele , Di’s funeral etc, I had no idea just how ornate it actually is, with over 600 elaborate memorials and monuments packed into it. Some of them pretty freaky like this one.

And it is a 1,000 years old. A door there is said to have been there since 1050. No built in obsolescence in those days.

As a historian of sorts, to stand next to the tomb of Elizabeth I is pretty mind blowing, as is seeing the spot where Oliver Cromwell lay – for all of two years before he was dug up to have his body well and truly desecrated.

I did have a moment when I nearly had to smack someone. In Poet’s Corner I went to search for the memorial to Wilfred Owen. His is one name in a list of war poets engraved on the floor. Just as I spotted him, some oaf put his foot right on top of Owen’s name. I was outraged! Mind you, should a certain female prime minister ever end up in the Abbey I think there may be long queues of people all wanting to stamp on her grave.

It wasn’t cheap - £15 each, but the website explains that the Abbey receives no regular funding from The Crown, the Church of England or the government. It states “Neither a cathedral nor a parish church, Westminster Abbey was established as a ‘Royal Peculiar’ in 1560 by Queen Elizabeth I. The Abbey is outside the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Church of England and the Government. In short, this means we must seek our own financial support.” It seems that the million plus visitors they get each year are still not enough to meet their overheads. So here’s a suggestion. Seeing as how the queen was crowned there, has many of her predecessors buried there including her namesake, got married there, most probably will have her funeral there, and as she is one of the richest persons on the planet, estimated at being worth around 40 billion pounds sterling (all the residences, pieces of art, royal collection, the lands, the ships and the financial resources hold by the monarch) – how about she dips into her pocket to fund the place?

Yeah right . Dream on JJ. She didn’t get so rich by giving any of it away don’t you know?


John said...

Stamp? No! Dance!

J.J said...

I look forward to meeting you there for that dance John. Surely she can't go on that much longer? Or can she????

John said...

It depends how many virgins there are left in the country.

jay said...

Indeed, yes, since it was claimed by royalty as outside church and government, it would be only right that they help to maintain one of our nations richest treasures!

And I think that dance would be very popular. ;)

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

There was that classic competition some years ago for suitable epitaph for Thatcher's grave.

A three word phrase won:

"Licensed for dancing"

Loved the idea of the Queen coughing up for the Abbey's funding. But you're right, it will never happen.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

To really appreciate certain things - like the history and culture woven into the fabric of Westminster Abbey - you have to have arrived at the right point in your life - a place where your receptive skills are advanced and open. It's the same with certain books.

naldo said...

Religion, Ladi Di, Thatch and the Queen....these are a few of my (least) favourite things.

Please tell me how to pronounce Cogenhoe. Is it Co-ghin-ho? I've been on the hooks of a tenter.

JoeinVegas said...

See, you too can be a tourist.

J.J said...

John - I do suspect there is some blood sucking involved in her long evity.

Jay - the Abbey will be upping their admission charges to cash in on the dancing!

Lisa - superb epitaph - thanks for that!

YP - I like that thought of yours and thinking back to things I totally failed to appreciate when I was younger but learnt to love I am sure you are right.

Naldo - with you on those least favourite things. And the answer is Cook- know...bizarre but true.

Joe - I love being a tourist!