I don’t know why it took me so long to get to London.
I think most gay men are rabid Anglophiles and watching public television is a lot like watching the BBC, if the BBC had an oldies channel that showed endless looping reruns.
But now that Downton Abbey has flushed all the rest of the Brit-loving Yanks out of the closet and into the warm contemplation of what might have been if we had only kept our tempers in 1776…
But this post is about that other Abbey…
Hard by the (admittedly impressive) Victorian Gothic mass of Big Ben and the Parliament building, Westminster Abbey is the real Gothic deal, holding almost one thousand years of history.
Do see the tombs of both Elizabeth I and her flighty cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. I had to think about that one…sure Elizabeth was a big queen, but Mary? The tour clarified that her son James I shoehorned her in later. He wouldn’t let her be shown up by the woman to whom she lost her head.
Do see the beautifully-carved wooden quire stalls, Henry VII’s incredible Lady Chapel, the tomb of Britain’s unknown warrior and the Coronation Chair (home to the Stone of Scone for around 700 years until the Brits finally agreed to give it back to Scotland).
The RAF Chapel and Poet’s Corner were, for me at least, surprisingly intimate spaces where I could feel a human connection to the carved names, famous or not, and both were sweet spots for a little rest and contemplation. Also don’t miss a stroll around the cloisters and garden.
Try to attend a Communion service in the Abbey (daily at 8AM, noon and 5PM) where you will meet visitors from around the world, as well as Brits who attend the church regularly.
While £18 is a little steep for the full tour…this is a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the most famous churches in the world and how many times will you be here? There is of course no charge to attend one of the scheduled services.