Westminster Abbey is not only the site of royal weddings and coronations but also the final resting place of thousands of notable people, including monarchs, consorts, poets, scientists, and politicians. Here you will read about who is buried in Westminster Abbey? Why isn’t Queen Elizabeth buried there? To find out start reading:
Explore some of the most well-known graves in Westminster Abbey to get a feel for the building’s historic significance. Don’t leave without first checking out this list of notable people who rest in Westminster Abbey. There are kings and anonymous soldiers on this list.
The Great Confessor, Edward
From 1042 to 1066, when he was king, Edward the Confessor was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and oversaw the construction of Westminster Abbey. After a troubled childhood during which England was repeatedly attacked by the Vikings, Edward was forced into exile for 25 years before he was finally accepted as King of England. In 1161, King Henry I of England became the first Anglo-Saxon and only English monarch to be canonized. Most British monarchs were laid to rest in Westminster Abbey between Edward the Confessor and George II.
Edward V was named King of England after his father’s death, but he was never crowned and only reigned for 86 days before being deposed by his uncle, Richard III, and imprisoned in the Tower of London with his brother. They vanished in 1483, but their legacy as “The Princes in the Tower” lives on. Their whereabouts after Richard II’s death is a mystery, but it is widely believed he had them killed.
King Charles II had the remains of children found in a stairwell of the Tower transferred to Westminster Abbey in 1674, but it has never been established that these were indeed the princes’ remains.
Anne of Cleves, Henry’s fourth wife, was divorced from him after their brief six-month marriage. She was brought over from her native Dusseldorf for the wedding in 1540, but Henry showed little interest in the German bride. She outlived all of Henry VIII’s other wives, passing away in 1557 and going by the title “the King’s Beloved Sister” after the annulment. To our knowledge, she is Henry VIII’s only wife to be laid to rest in the Abbey.
Queen Elizabeth Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, is one of the most well-known people to be laid to rest in Westminster Abbey. Playwrights like Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe led the creative charge, and explorers like Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh navigated the seas during her reign, known as the Elizabethan era. After 44 years on the throne, she passed away in 1603 having never wed or produced any offspring. Mary I, her half-sister, is buried next to her.
Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton was a physicist and mathematician who is often cited as one of the most influential scientists in history for his contributions to mechanics, calculus, astronomy, planetary science, and optics. Does Sir Issac Newton have autism? You can also read about the Top 20 People Who Have autism. He was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705 and served as its president until his untimely death in his sleep in 1727.
Honorable Sir C. J. Barry
To be fair, you could be forgiven for not recognizing this guy. For his work on the Palace of Westminster restoration in the 19th century, Sir Charles Barry is the most well-known English architect of the time (Houses of Parliament). You’ll also see his work in Trafalgar Square and Highclere Castle, which served as the location of the TV show Downton Abbey.
Darwin is probably best known as a naturalist and geologist for his contribution to the science of evolution and publication of “On the Origin of Species” where he introduced the process of natural selection.
He is best known for his exploration of Africa and infamous meeting with Henry Morton Stanley that introduced the quote, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” David Livingstone was an explorer, missionary and one of Victorian Britain’s most prolific individuals. Coming from a working-class background, he not only discovered the sources of the River Nile but also crusaded for the abolition of slavery. He died in 1873 in Zambia, where his heart is buried.
One of the most famous English writers with books such as “A Christmas Carol,” “David Copperfield,” “Great Expectations,” “Oliver Twist,” and “A Tale of Two Cities,” Charles Dickens is synonymous with the Victorian era. During his lifetime, he wrote novels, novellas, short stories, and articles, lectured and campaigned for education and children’s rights.
Dr. Samuel Johnson
Best known for his “A Dictionary of the English Language” published in 1755 after 9 years of work, Dr. Samuel Johnson was one of the most influential writers of the 18th century. His book was viewed as the predominant British dictionary until the “Oxford English Dictionary” was introduced 150 years later.
Author Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling, author of the “Jungle Books,” is another literary legend buried near Poet’s Corner. Born in British India, Rudyard is widely regarded as a pioneer of the short story genre; several of his works for children, such as “Just So Stories for Little Children” and “Kim,” have become timeless masterpieces.
Aphra Behn earned women the right to voice their opinions. Therefore Virginia Woolf famously remarked, “All women united ought to let flowers fall over the tomb of Aphra Behn… at Westminster Abbey.” Although her name may be unfamiliar, Aphra was a prolific 17th-century British poet, translator, and playwright. By challenging conventional gender roles, she became an inspiration to women all around England and the world. More than that, Charles II hired her as a spy.
A British soldier who died in World War I without a known identity was the first person to be laid to rest in what would become known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. His death is symbolic of the hundreds of lives lost in the conflict. On multiple battlefields, six bodies were dug up and identified. One was chosen to be buried in Westminster Abbey, and the others were placed in unmarked coffins. This is the only grave on the church’s floor you are not allowed to visit.
Westminster Abbey is home to thousands upon thousands of memorials and burials. You may spend a fascinating hour or two researching notable people and events.
You can also read about What was Queen Elizabeth II Last Words Before she Died?
Why Isn’t Queen Elizabeth II Buried At Westminster Abbey?
There is not enough room for Queen Elizabeth’s burial at Westminster Abbey. Despite being the ultimate resting place for 30 British kings, Westminster Abbey has not added a new royal tomb since 1760.
For lack of room, the old church contains no memorials for several monarchs, including Charles II, Anne, Mary II, and William III.
Where Will the Body of Queen Elizabeth II Be Buried?
In addition to the state funeral at Westminster Abbey, a burial service will be held at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
When the time comes, the Queen will join Prince Philip, her parents, and her sister in the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle for the final resting place of the royal family.
- 1 The Great Confessor, Edward
- 2 Edward V
- 3 Anne Cleves
- 4 Sir Isaac Newton
- 5 Honorable Sir C. J. Barry
- 6 Charles Darwin
- 7 David Livingstone
- 8 Charles Dickens
- 9 Dr. Samuel Johnson
- 10 Author Rudyard Kipling
- 11 Aphra Behn
- 12 Unknown Combatant
- 13 Why Isn’t Queen Elizabeth II Buried At Westminster Abbey?
- 14 Where Will the Body of Queen Elizabeth II Be Buried?