Tag Archives: church

History of Ages Hidden in Westminster Abbey

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The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, most commonly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large church, taht is mostly Gothic. It was built in 1042 by Edward the Confessor and the current church’s construction was strted in 1245 by Henry III. The Abbey is located in the City of Westminster, London, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronations, Royal weddings and burial site for English, later British monarchs. The abbey is a Royal Peculiar and briefly held the status of a cathedral from 1540 to 1550.

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Moving back in time?

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October was still pretty green in England

While in London, in October last year, we just had to visit the Westminster Abbey.But before getting there we passed a beautiful park, where birds were flying around, ducks and geese swiming in the water and fat squirrels were chasing each other and food from happy tourists. It was a beautiful Autumn day with sunshine and blue sky. So far. We walked passed theBuckngham Palace and to the Westminster Abbey.

We decided to take an audioguide tour of the church, since the last tour with a real guide had left 10 minutes earlier. The Abbey was closing early that day, bad timing. We walked and walked and walked with the audioguides. We listned to a story about the Abbey, the old kings and queens, war and peace, blood and friendship. We listned about old heros and great scientists. The place is huge, but the history hidden here is even greater.

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Waving flag

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Timeless time at the Big Ben

We walked among memorial places, graves with well recognized names from the history books and in the poets corner.

The place it huge. All the parts started to get mixed up. The Kings, Queens, heroes. The great history of the people here, the country and the church. I think it is fair to visit this place several times, in order to be able to remember just some of the information given here.

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Part of the Abbey

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Entrance to the Westminster Abbey

Burials and old graves

  • Henry III rebuilt the Abbey in honour of the Royal Saint Edward the Confessor whose relics were placed in a shrine in the sanctuary.
  • Henry III himself was interred nearby, as were many of the Plantagenet kings of England, their wives and other relatives.
    Until the death of George II in 1760, most Kings and Queens were buried in the Abbey, some notable exceptions being Edward IV, Henry VIII and Charles I .
  • From the Middle Ages, aristocrats were buried inside chapels.
  • Monks and other people associated with the Abbey were buried in the Cloisters and other areas. One of these was Geoffrey Chaucer.
  • Other poets, writers and musicians were buried or memorialised around Chaucer in what became known as Poets’ Corner.
    Abbey musicians such as Henry Purcell were also buried in their place of work.
  • Other national figures burried in the Abbey started with Admiral Robert Blake in 1657.
  • The practice spread to include generals, admirals, politicians, doctors and scientists such as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
  • Another was William Wilberforce, the man who abolished slavery in the United Kingdom and the Plantations.
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Another part of the church, the place is huge.

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Yard inside

Very special Place

Having passed so much history, so many famous names that have changed to course of the history and science, in many cases, is quite special. I liked the tour, I enjoyed the place and its dignity. And yet the seriousness, the dignity and the history weights quite heavy. You are not allowed to take pictures inside. Is it because of the dignity of the place? Is it because of the security? Or maybe it’s because of its age and the facts that many tourists would use flash? I have no idea, but I gon’t have any pictures from the inside.

There were very many tourists here. The place was litterarly crowded and it was low season. I wonder how it looks in June? We walked through the whole Abbey, peeking into the monastery and its gardens and listening to birds there.

On the day we visited Abbey there was supposed to be ceremony of some kind with military veterans. The place closed early, the tourists left and the soldiers arrived. The tourist site made place for seriousness, ceremony and quiet, just as it is supposed to be.

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The Westminster Abbey on the outside

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House of the Parliament next to the Westminster Abbey

Links and Globes

The Westminster Abbey have benn a World Heritage site since 1987. Link: Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margret’s Church.

The site contains of Palace, Abbey and Saint Margret’s Church. We visited only the Abbey. I was thinking about grade two globes, because of so many tourists amd a five, because of the history hidden  here. I finally decided for four globes:

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

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Unfinished business with death

The granite cross at Skogskyrkogården

The granite cross at Skogskyrkogården (the Wooden Cemetery), a symbol of the circle of life and death.

I like cemeteries. They make me feel calm and relaxed, and sometimes they make me think about life and death and everything between life and death. One cemetery where you can wander for hours and hours is Skogskyrkogården (the Wooden Cemetery) in Stockholm, Sweden, a World Heritage site since 1994.

The main reason to visit Skogskyrkogården, 102 acres big with 100,000 graves, isn’t necessarily to see the graves and tombstones. Many people from all over the world (many of them from Japan) come to Skogskyrkogården to experience the wonderful architecture and nature. The granite cross casting huge shadows in the green grass, the meditation grove Almhöjden (a hill with elms), the pond, the wall, the visitors center and the chapel of resurrection are just a few of all buildings and places that makes Skogskyrkogården worth visiting.

My father

My father.


My unfinished business with death

I have only been to one funeral, my godfather’s. But what about the tombstone in the picture above? It has my father’s name (my father is buried in Nora, a small village 200-250 kilometres west of Stockholm). Didn’t I attend at his funeral? The sad answer is no, I did not. I guess I wanted to, but the grown ups told me I was too young to attend the funeral. It’s true I was only six years old when my father died in an accident, but I believe that children know far more about life and death than you might think. Maybe that has changed in recent years, I don’t know, but I hope that everyone, no matter how young or old they are, are allowed to be at their parents’ funeral.

Anyway, the fact that I was not allowed to witness my father’s funeral makes me feel that my relationship with my father is an unfinished business with death. I never got the chance to say goodbye to him. Often when I visit a cemetery, whenever I wander among the graves, a thought that always pop up in my head is:  who was and who was NOT allowed to witness his or her funeral? Now, that may sound sad and perhaps a little bitter, but it’s just a quick reflection, no worries.

Back to Skogskyrkogården
Skogskyrkogården was founded in the beginning of the 1900s. Two architects, Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz designed Skogskyrkogården. Gunnar Asplund is considered to be one of the most importent architects of that time. The same is said about Sigurd Lewerentz, although he never got the fame he deserves.

The pond and the Almhöjden.

The pond, the granite cross and Almhöjden.

Statues stretching towards the blue sky.

Statue stretching towards the blue sky.

The chapel.

The chapel.


Autumn at Skogskyrkogården
I doesn’t matter when you visit Skogskyrkogården – it’s always a magical place. This time (I have been to Skogskyrkogården many times) we decided to visit Skogskyrkogården in the autumn (when the nature explode in beautiful colors) and the day before all saints day (when the Swedish darkness is lit up by candles).

Beautiful colors.

Beautiful colors.

Almhöjden in the evening, the day before all saints day.

Almhöjden in the evening.

Candles.

Candles.

More candles.

More candles.

Even more candles.

Even more candles.


Cool cemeteries and churches

There are cemeteries and there are churches, and there are “cool” cemeteries and there are “cool” churches, if you know what I mean. Skogskyrkogården is a beautiful cemetery, but is it cool? No, I love the mysterious gothic style, and cemeteries and churches with a long history. Skogskyrkogården is too young to be a mysterious place with a long history. But I still love Skogskyrkogården!

One of my favorite “cool” cemeteries is the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France, where many famous people like Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf and Fryderyk Chopin are buried. Look at the picture below and imagine the same place a cold misty autumn evening when the ravens croak in the trees!

The Père Lachaise cemetery.

The Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France.

Graffiti next to Jim Morrisons grave.

Edith Piaf.

Edith Piaf.

A church of which I am particularly fond of is another World Heritage site, namely Westminster Abbey in London, England. Imagine a place where people who influenced the world (at least in the Western world) so much are buried: Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin and many, many other significant scientists, writers, architects, kings, queens…

Yes, I have visited Westminister Abbey, but that’s one part in coming post with six World Heritage sites visited in five days: Westminister Abbey, Kew Garden, Tower of London, Greenwitch, Bath and Stonehenge.

Westminister Abbey.

Westminster Abbey.


Verdict and links

Skogskyrkogården is a unique place, the largest cemetery in Sweden, and a cemetery that attracts people who want to see the architecture and nature, as well as visiting the graves.

Number of globes? Four out of five, definitely!

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

/Jany

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