Abbey Secrets



From a dazzling window by David Hockney to a sombre memorial for Nelson Mandela, Scott Craddock, head of visitor experience, picks out his defining images of Westminster Abbey

Britain’s Oldest door

It’s fascinating to have a door that dates back to the reign of Edward the Confessor, the monarch responsible for the first Abbey, built in 1065. The door has survived subsequent rebuilds all around it and the wood itself is even older! It is something so simple but a big talking point for everyone who sees it.

The Queen’s window, by David Hockney

The newest window in the Abbey is possibly the boldest and most striking. It’s a very modern piece amidst a relatively ancient space. With the right light it shines a rainbow into the Abbey; a symbol of faith, hope and diversity. 

Grave of the Unknown Warrior

There is something incredibly moving about the Grave of the Unknown Warrior; an unknown member of our armed forces buried amidst an Abbey full of monarchs and famous names. The only grave that is never walked on and one that represents those who were lost in conflicts, our loved ones who have no grave of their own

Nelson Mandela 

The memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the Abbey in 2014 was my first service here. Having lived in Cape Town for some time I found it especially poignant, stirred by the sound of the Soweto Gospel Choir and the moving address by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. His memorial stone, laid in the Nave in 2018, is a permanent reminder of the change that Mandela helped bring.

View from the Galleries down through the abbey

We opened the Galleries in 2018, taking our visitor experience quite literally to another level. I love the Galleries space – it allows you to explore a large and varied collection of treasures, as well as to sit and contemplate. The view from the eastern end through the whole of the Abbey to the west is breath-taking.

Lady Chapel ceiling

Stunning! The chapel is crammed full of incredible imagery and architecture. The words of a former Dean sum it up nicely ‘perpendicular gothic at its most exuberant’!

And a grave in the Cloisters to a plumber, Philip Clark

Philip Clark’s grave is a fitting reminder of all those who have worked at the Abbey, celebrating lives of people who made an important contribution to the work of the Abbey. There is a strong sense of community here and  seeing memorials to former staff members makes me think of the work they undertook and the challenges they faced.