Westminster Abbey is actually called ‘The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, and is a large, mainly Gothic church opposite the Houses of Parliament. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English, British and some Commonwealth Realms. It briefly held the status of a cathedral from 1546–1556, and is a place of worship that falls directly under the jurisdiction of the British monarch, rather than under a bishop – referred to as a ‘Royal Peculiar’
The Abbey can be a difficult building to photograph as it is big, surrounded by trees and busy – you are also not allowed to take photographs inside the Westminster Abbey, so you are limited to the outside. The main part of the building near Parliament Square faces north, so it is hardly ever in sunlight, but the sun is often above the Abbey which gives high contrast and poor pictures. Cloudy days and detail shots work best. You can get a reasonable view of the west and east side of the Abbey, but will need to venture right into Deans Yard to see the south side of the Abbey – but it is worth it.
This set of photographs shows the Abbey from the different viewpoints as well as showing the contrast between night and day.
Westminster Abbey Map
This set of photographs shows the Abbey at night and during the day.
Photos © Philip Carey 2010