Westminster Abbey, or the Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster, is more than 10 centuries old. It is a large church built mainly in the Gothic style and located in the capital of England, London. Westminster Abbey has served as the traditional coronation and burial site of the British Monarchs since 1066. The original site had been established a century prior, around 960, as a Community of the Benedictine monks. The Gothic-looking edifice of the Abbey as we know it today was built by Henry III three centuries later in 1245 who was the first monarch to be buried there. Since then not only the monarchs, but also aristocrats and poets have been buried inside chapels and cloisters. Some of the famous English writers whose tombstones are now found in what became known as "The Poets' Corner" of the Westminster Abbey are Geoffrey Chaucer, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, William Wordsworth, and others.
The Abbey has a long tradition as a site for Royal Weddings. One of the most famous weddings, planned for April 29, 2011, is going to be between Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton. Over 1,900 invitations have been sent out for guests to attend this event. Westminster Abbey houses schools and the Westminster Abbey Museum exhibiting a unique collection of royal and other funeral effigies and treasures including the 12th-century sculpture fragments and some panels of medieval glass. (The image below is the tomb of Henry III).
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Assignment 1: Read the following words and expressions. Write them down in your notebook, translate and remember them in context. Use these expressions to retell the text.
- a coronation site
- a burial site
- prior to that
- an edifice
- a monarch
- a chapel
- a cloister
- a tombstone
- to exhibit a collection
- a funeral effigy
- medieval glass
Assignment 2: Pronunciation practice. Listen to the recording and repeat after it. Practice reading the following words (pay careful attention to their pronunciation)
- St. Peter
- Westminster Abbey
Assignment 3: Discussion questions. Please, answer the questions below:
- What is Westminster Abbey known for?
- When was the Abbey founded and who were its first residents?
- Who was the first Monarch to be buried in the Abbey?
- What is the "Poets' Corner" in Westminster Abbey?
- What other sites can one visit at Westminster Abbey?
Assignment 4: Search the Internet for more information about Westminster Abbey. Share it in class or write an entry on your blog.