Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Westminster Abbey in Film

Westminster Abbey at night
Westminster Abbey (recently announced as the church for the wedding of HRH Price William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton) has been used for Royal Weddings since King Henry I married Princess Matilda of Scotland in 1100.  Since then however, there have only been thirteen other royal weddings at the Abbey, including:

HM The Queen & Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN
On the 20 of November 1947, Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II), elder daughter of King George VI, was married to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN (later Duke of Edinburgh).

King George VI & Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
On 26 April 1923, The Duke of York (later King George VI), second son of King George V, was married to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later to become The Queen Mother).

Princess Margaret & Antony Armstrong-Jones
On 6 May 1960, Princess Margaret, second daughter of King George VI, was married to Antony Armstrong-Jones (later Earl of Snowdon).

Prince Andrew & Sarah Ferguson
On 23 July 1986, Prince Andrew, second son of Queen Elizabeth II, was married to Miss Sarah Ferguson.

Princess Anne & Captain Mark Phillips
On 14 November 1973, Princess Anne, only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, was married to Captain Mark Phillips.

Nov 20 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN

Nov 14 1973 wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips
Although Westminster Abbey does allow filming at the Abbey, it is mostly for documentaries and historical programming.  Most dramatic films are forced to use another church as a stand in for Westminster.

The Da Vinci Code (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)Many people who watched The DaVinci Code are not aware that they had to use Lincoln Cathedral  for the interior shots of the Abbey, although the exterior shots did use Westminster of course.  Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire was also used in this film and is the site of the funeral and burial of Jane Austen in 1817, for you Jane Austen fans.
Stone of Destiny

Another recent film, Stone of Destiny, a cute little flick based on fact, is about four young Scottish students in the 1950's who decide to steal the Stone of Scone from under the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey and repatriate it to Scotland.  (In 1296 the Stone had been captured by Edward I as spoils of war and taken to Westminster Abbey, where it was fitted into a wooden chair, known as King Edward's Chair, on which most subsequent English sovereigns have been crowned.)  The filmmakers had to use Paisley Abbey in Scotland for both interior and some exterior shots of Westminster Abbey. Of note: the Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland in 1996, where it is now kept.  However at future coronations the Stone will be returned briefy to St Edward's Chair for the moment of coronation.

The Young VictoriaEven The Young Victoria which had Sarah Ferguson involved as a Producer and had Princess Beatrice in a cameo role as a Lady in Waiting, couldn't use Westminster for interior shots.  Instead, Lincoln Cathedral was used to film the coronation of Queen Victoria.

I think many of us are looking forward to seeing the wedding of William and Kate on April 29, 2011 and I for one, will be glued to my TV set, just as I was 30 years ago for Charles and Diana's.  Good luck to them both!


  1. Probably the #1 tourist destination in London for yours truly. The first time I was there was in 1982, and I was really into reading about the Tudors, and so I was in heaven when I went into the room where Mary Tudor and the Great Elizabeth rest side by side. It's easy to forget that modern London is right outside the door.

  2. I would love to go to evensong at Westminster. Any excuse to go back to England. I still can remember seeing the Stone of Scone under the Coronation Chair.
    I felt amazed by Hampton Court Palace as well. I remember standing in the chapel where King Henry VIII married Catherine Parr, his last wife. It gave me the shivers.
    Cheers to a fellow anglophile and English history lover!

  3. I visited Westminster Abbey in Feb 2012. A wonderful building steeped in history! xx

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