Westminster Cathedral in London - not to be confused with the more famous Westminster Abbey nearby - is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain. Its full formal name is the Cathedral Church of Westminster.
History of Westminster Cathedral
The site on which the cathedral stands originally belonged to the Benedictine monks who founded Westminster Abbey. Since then, it has been variously used as a market, a garden, a waste dump, and a prison. The property was acquired by the Catholic Church in 1884.
The foundation stone of Westminster Cathedral was laid in 1895; the majority of the building was completed by 1903. The cathedral was designed in an Early Christian Byzantine style by Victorian architect John Francis Bentley.
What to See at Westminster Cathedral
Many visitors to London don't even know this cathedral exists unless they stumble upon it on their way to Wesminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Yet for those who walk by, Westminster Cathedral is difficult to miss - towering over an open piazza, it is a striking building of red brick and stone in a Byzantine design, quite different from Britain's native cathedrals.
The architecture is just as lovely and unique inside, but the main attraction of Westminster Cathedral for many Londoners (and visitors) is its quiet, prayerful atmosphere away from the noise and bustle of the surrounding city.
The interior of the cathedral remains incomplete, but this is not obvious to the untrained eye. Eight marble columns support a huge canopy over the high altar, while Byzantine mosaics cover the chapels and the vaulting of the sanctuary. The friezes of the fourteen Stations of the Cross, by the sculptor Eric Gill, are world-renowned.
Quick Facts on Westminster Cathedral
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||51.495856° N, 0.139448° W|
|Phone:||+44 (020) 7798-9055|
|Hours:||Tower: May-Nov daily 9am-12:30pm and 1-5pm; Dec-Apr Thurs-Sun 9am-5pm|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Westminster Cathedral|
- Personal visit (July 3, 2006).
- Westminster Cathedral - official website
- Westminster Cathedral - Frommer's England
- Photos of Westminster Cathedral - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Westminster Cathedral
Below is a location map and aerial view of Westminster Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.