Westminster Abbey is one of the world’s great churches, with a history stretching back over a thousand years.
People from around the world visit the centuries-old building, or attend one of the daily services which remain at the heart of Abbey life.
Ten years ago, a new team was established to welcome to the schools, families and community groups that come to explore this architectural masterpiece.
Since the Education Centre was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen in May 2010, the Abbey’s Learning department has welcomed more than 121,000 students from UK schools offering the chance to experience highlights including royal tombs, the Coronation Chair and the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
Guided tours and workshops support learning in subjects including RE and history, while special events encourage students to work with leading historians, scientists and key public figures.
Supporting the Abbey’s commitment to social engagement, the outreach programme also offers schools in the most deprived areas of London workshops and free visits.
Schools can also now make a virtual visit to the Abbey via video conferencing, talking to a member of the team live on a topic of their choice and following the online Virtual Tour.
The department also runs a busy programme for children and families. From special themed tours of the Abbey to holiday events in the beautiful setting of Garden, activities inspire families to learn and explore together.
Over the last decade, the team has worked alongside organisations including the National Archives, the Houses of Parliament, and Historic Royal Palaces, running special events and projects for schools, community groups and adult learners.
The team was established as part of a development plan to improve facilities for the Abbey’s visitors: in 2012 the Cellarium Café and Terrace was opened in the former 14th-century monks’ cellar, and later a new Song School for the Abbey’s world-famous choir.
In 2018, a medieval gallery high above the Abbey floor – never before open to the public – was transformed into, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, displaying 300 treasures from the Abbey collection.