First World War

I have felt a strong attraction to Westminster. I have lived in North London all my life, and have been around Westminster regularly. I also now work near the Abbey and see it daily on my commute to the office. (Downs) In an e-mail interview, Mr. Downs was asked how he felt the people of London were affected by Westminster Abbey: Landmarks like Westminster become symbols for society. Westminster, and Parliament as well, have become the primary signifiers of London in the eyes of many people around the world.

Like the view of America’s White House, the Taj Mahal, and other locations, these buildings become the first visual representation that most people have in their minds for certain locations. (Downs) Along with many people who live in London, Mr. Downs feels that the Abbey itself has become more than just a building, or even a very nice example of early modern architecture, the Abbey has come to symbolize England itself. The Abbey also served as a popular meeting place during the London shelling of World War II.

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(BBC) As a place for refuge and for prayer, Westminster Abbey became a symbol of perseverance during the war. War broke out, and there we were in the heart of Westminster. My father was Canon and sub-Dean of the Abbey and Rector of St John’s, Smith Square. The domestic staff departed, those that could leave for the country and Westminster was quiet. The iron railings were taken down from the parks to help with armaments; but daily life went on. (BBC) The functionality of Westminster Abbey has not ceased since its reformation under Queen Elizabeth I.

The daily pattern or worship has been maintained throughout the past four hundred years – and continues today. There are many aspects of Westminster Abbey that give the building such a high place in the world stage. The Abbey itself has been the site of more than one thousand years of religious history, tumult and change. Its ties to the spread of Christianity throughout the British Isles cannot be underplayed. However, the Abbey has grown to serve many other purposes throughout its long history.

It has been the site of political upheaval, and restoration. It has seen the birth of one of the most power nations on Earth, and it’s near collapse. The Westminster Abbey has served as the location for the crowning of kings and queens for over nine hundred years. The British monarchy is the longest surviving society of its time in the modern age – and Westminster Abbey has stood through nearly all of it. Perhaps even more so that the houses of Parliament and the palace of Windsor, Westminster Abbey have stood in reverence and importance.

While the families which rule over England have changed and the strength of the nation itself has risen and tapered off, Westminster Abbey has remained a strong and important visage of the English culture.


Barry, Rosemary. “Pre-war and Wartime Westminster”. BBC Archive. BBC News. 2006. Date of Access: June 1, 2006. URL: http://www. bbc. co. uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/07/a5200507. shtm l This story is a first hand account from a civilian who lived during the First World War.

From a series of articles accumulated by the BBC, the article concentrated on the peopleof London who lived in Westminster, and near the Abbey. “Westminster Abbey. ” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. 1 June 2006 http://www. britannica. com/eb/article-9076685. This article details the history of the Westminster Abbey. Specific details are included, such as the approximate date of construction, the various additions and reconstructions, and people who was interred within.


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