If you’ve stayed in London during the pandemic, chances are you’ve exhausted your enthusiasm for strolling through the same parks and are looking for something new to explore.
As restrictions are gradually eased and we are allowed to be a bit more adventurous, a visit to the gardens of Westminster Abbey could provide just the diversion you need.
It’s a place associated with royal weddings and grand ceremonies, but did you know there’s also a beautiful garden on the premises?
Hidden within the walls of the abbey precincts lies the College Garden, which has been cultivated for more than 900 years.
During the monastic period, the gardens were used to grow food and medicinal herbs for the abbey’s residents.
Next to it were fish ponds, beehives, an orchard and a separate piece of land for growing vegetables. An idyllic scene indeed.
(Image: Tracy from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA, 02.0
Even in times when the gardens were used for practical purposes, beauty was always paramount, so roses and lilies nestled against the walls of the College Garden. These were cared for by monks, who were given the titles chief gardener and two junior gardeners.
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In addition to their gardening, the monks also attended the daily services but had to leave their muddy cloaks and boots outside.
Today the garden is a place of relaxation for those visiting Westminster Abbey, with features such as the stone wall dating back to 1376. More modern features include a water fountain and rose garden.
In addition to the main gardens, there are two other smaller gardens: the Garth and the Little Cloister Garden.
(Image: Tobias Michaelsen from Copenhagen S, Denmark)
The Garth was formerly used by the monks for quiet reflection and Little Cloister has a Victorian fountain and borders of fragrant plants, originally an area intended for recovery from illness.
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In accordance with current Covid guidelines, the Abbey is open for worship and those who can safely travel there are invited to attend the daily Eucharistic celebration.
However, the abbey is not currently open to general visits, so you may have to wait a little longer to appreciate the beauty and history of the prestigious site.
(Image: Tracy from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA, CC BY 2.0
Westminster Abbey has informed us that the Abbey will remain closed to the public until all Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
More than 3,000 famous people are buried or memorialized at the Abbey, including Nelson Mandela, Jane Austen and Stephen Hawking.
The Abbey is in Deans Yard, Westminster. The nearest London underground stations are St James’ Park, which is a five-minute walk away, and Westminster underground station, also five minutes away.
Waterloo train station is a 16 minute walk and Victoria is 18 minutes.
Have you ever been to Westminster Abbey? Would you like to stroll through the picturesque gardens? Let us know here in the comments section.