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Burials and memorials in Westminster Abbey

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Title: Burials and memorials in Westminster Abbey  
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Subject: Westminster Abbey, Jerusalem Chamber, John Thomas (bishop of Rochester), William Foxley Norris, Lancelot Andrewes
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Burials and memorials in Westminster Abbey

Honouring individuals with Burials and Memorials in Westminster Abbey has a long tradition.


Grave effigy of Queen Elizabeth I.

Queen Victoria and Edward VIII are buried at Frogmore, where the Royal Family also has a private cemetery.

Since the Middle Ages, aristocrats were buried inside chapels, while monks and other people associated with the Abbey were buried in the T. S. Eliot, Thomas Gray, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Samuel Johnson, John Keats, Rudyard Kipling, Jenny Lind, John Masefield, John Milton, Laurence Olivier, Alexander Pope, Nicholas Rowe, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Thomas Shadwell, William Shakespeare, Alfred Lord Tennyson and William Wordsworth. Abbey musicians such as Henry Purcell were also buried in their place of work.

Subsequently it became one of Britain's most significant honours to be buried or commemorated here.[1] The practice of burying national figures in the Abbey began under Oliver Cromwell with the burial of Admiral Robert Blake in 1657.[2] The practice spread to include generals, admirals, politicians, doctors and scientists such as Isaac Newton, buried on 4 April 1727 and Charles Darwin buried 19 April 1882.

Eight British Prime Ministers are buried in the Abbey; Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, William Ewart Gladstone, Andrew Bonar Law, Neville Chamberlain and Clement Attlee.

During the early 20th century, for reasons of space, it became increasingly common to bury cremated remains rather than coffins. In 1905 the actor Sir Henry Irving was cremated and his ashes buried in the Abbey, thereby becoming the first person ever to be cremated prior to interment.[3] This marked a milestone as after the death of Sir Joseph Hooker in December 1911, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey chose to offer Hooker a grave near Charles Darwin's in the nave but also insisted that he be cremated before. His widow however declined and so Hooker's body was buried in the churchyard of St. Anne's Church, Kew. Since 1936, no individual has been buried in a coffin in Westminster Abbey or its cloisters. The only exceptions to this rule are members of the Percy Family who have a family vault, "The Northumberland Vault", in St Nicholas's chapel, within the Abbey.[4]

In the floor just inside the great west door, in the centre of the nave, is the tomb of The Unknown Warrior, an unidentified British soldier killed on a European battlefield during the First World War. He was buried in the Abbey on 11 November 1920. There are many graves in the floors of the Abbey, but this is the only grave on which it is forbidden to step.


Monarchs and their consorts

The following English, Scottish and British Monarchs and their consorts are buried in the Abbey:

In the 19th century researchers looking for the tomb of James I partially opened the underground vault containing the remains of Elizabeth I and Mary I of England. The lead coffins were stacked, with Elizabeth's resting on top of her half-sister's.[5]
The position of the tomb of James I of England was lost for several centuries. In the 19th century, following an excavation of many of the vaults beneath the floor, the lead coffin was found in the Henry VII vault.[5]

Other monarchs and consorts


The following are buried in the Nave:

North Transept

The following are buried in the North Transept:

South Transept

The following are buried in the South Transept which is known as Poets' Corner:


The cloister and garth

The following are buried in the Cloisters:

North Choir Aisle

The following are buried in the North Choir Aisle:

South Choir Aisle

The following are buried in the South Choir Aisle:

Ambulatory Chapels

The following are buried in the Ambulatory Chapels:

St. Nicholas' Chapel

Northumberland Vault


St Paul's Chapel

Other Ambulatory Chapels

Henry VII's Lady Chapel

The following are buried in Henry VII's Chapel:


The following are commemorated in the Abbey and/or had their Memorial Service in the Abbey, but were buried elsewhere:


"Placing the Canadian Colours on Gen. James Wolfe's Monument in Westminster Abbey" by Emily Warren in Currie Hall at Royal Military College of Canada

World War I Poets

Sixteen Great War poets are commemorated on a slate stone unveiled 11 November 1985, in the South Transept (Poets' Corner):[10]

20th Century Martyrs

The 20th-century martyrs

Above the Great West Door, ten 20th-century Christian martyrs from across the world are depicted in statues; from left to right:

Formerly buried (removed)

King Harold I was originally buried in the Abbey, but his body was subsequently exhumed, beheaded, and thrown into a fen in June 1040. The body was later rescued and re-buried in the church of St Clement Danes in Westminster.

A number of Cromwellians were also buried in the Abbey but later removed, in 1661, on the orders of King Charles II, and buried in a pit in St Margaret's churchyard, adjoining the Abbey. A modern plaque on the exterior wall of the church records the names of those who were disinterred:

In November 1869, at the request of the Salem, Massachusetts.


  1. ^ Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 26. 
  2. ^ Westminster Abbey Mrs. A. Murray Smith, published 1904-08-30
  3. ^ "Woking Crematorium". Internet. The Cremation Society of Great Britain. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Elizabeth, Duchess of Northumberland - Westminster Abbey
  5. ^ a b Stanley, Arthur (1886). Westminster Abbey. London: John Murray. p. 499. 
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Cook, James F. (2004). Governors of Georgia: 1754-2004. Macon: Mercer University Press.  
  8. ^ "Charles Whitworth, Baron of Galway". Westminster Abbey - Charles Whitworth, Baron of Galway. Westminster Abbey. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Robert & Olave Baden-Powell - Westminster Abbey
  10. ^ "Poets". Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Robert Blake - Westminster Abbey, Westminster Abbey
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