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Westminster Abbey Poets’ Corner | A Tribute to Literature

Westminster Abbey Poets' Corner is a tribute to the power of words. These writers and poets have each left their mark on history, and their works continue to inspire people all over the world. It is a place where visitors can come to learn more about these literary giants and appreciate their contributions to society.

What is Westminster Abbey Poets' Corner?

westminster abbey poets' corner

The Poets' Corner is one of Westminster Abbey's most iconic features. It was originally established in the year 1400 as the burial place for Geoffrey Chaucer but has since been expanded to include other famous authors. Today, there are more than 100 writers and poets who have been commemorated here. 

Poets' Corner is in the eastern aisle of the south transept and was initially a 'corner' itself. Over time, the different burials and memorials spread across the entire transept. Apart from authors and poets, some actors and clergymen are also buried here, along with the musician, George Frederic Handel. 

When someone is to be buried or memorialized here, it is the Deans of Westminster Abbey who make the call. They do, however, consult widely before providing a space based on merit. 

Quick facts about Westminster Abbey Poet's Corner

  • Official name: Poet's Corner
  • Location: Westminster Abbey, London, England
  • Date of opening: 1400
  • Timings: 9:30am to 3:30pm from Monday to Friday and 9am to 3pm on Saturday
  • Architectural style: Gothic architecture
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: 1987
  • Number of visitors per year: Over 1 million guests annually
  • Function: Burial for poets and writers

Why visit Westminster Abbey Poet's Corner?

  • Pilgrimage for literature enthusiasts: Poet's Corner is a burial ground for several renowned poets, writers, and playwrights, including William Shakespeare, the Bronte Sisters, Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, and many more. It is also a resting ground for a number of actors, clergymen, and musicians.
  • History written all over the grounds: The tradition of interring literary figures in Poets' Corner began with Geoffrey Chaucer in 1400 and was solidified when Edmund Spenser was laid to rest nearby. When you are here, you will learn so much about the commemoration of great literature giants.
  • The beauty of memorials: The memorials in Poet's Corner range from simple stone slabs and intricately carved monuments to hanging stone tablets and lifelike memorial busts. Each tribute beautifully captures the commemorated writers' and poets' essence and achievements, enhancing the area's solemn and inspiring ambiance.
  • Stained glass window: In 1994, a stained glass memorial window dedicated to Edward Horton was unveiled at Westminster Abbey. This window evolves beautifully as new literary figures are honored through inscribed glass panes, each addition enhancing its symbolic tribute.

History of Poets' Corner

Westminster Abbey has a long history of being the final resting place for many famous authors and poets. The most notable example is Geoffrey Chaucer, who was buried there in 1400. However, his tomb was eventually moved to make way for other burials and he was instead interred in a side chapel. 

Geoffrey Chaucer was the author of The Canterbury Tales. However, when he asked to be buried here, it was for his role as the Clerk of the King's Works. About 200 years later, the writer of The Faerie Queen, Edmund Spenser requested that he be buried near Chaucer, probably because of his literary works. This marked the beginning of a tradition that is today known as Poets' Corner. 

Westminster Abbey Poets' Corner Memorial Types

Authors and poets have been memorialized in different ways at the Poets' Corner. From stone slabs with names and inscriptions to elaborate stone carvings, Westminster Abbey makes sure that every literary icon here  is remembered in a fitting way. 

Here are some of the famous names under each memorial type. 

thomas hardy poets corner westminster abbey


  • Francis Beaumont
  • Charles Dickens
  • George Frideric Handel
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Rudyard Kipling
W H Auden westminster abbey poets' corner

Floor Stone

  • W. H. Auden
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • Lewis Carroll
  • T. S. Eliot
  • Henry James
Matthew Arnold westminster abbey poets' corner

Memorial Bust

  • Matthew Arnold
  • William Blake
  • Robert Burns
  • Samuel Butler
  • Adam Lindsay Gordon
william shakespeare poets corner westminster abbey


  • Michael Drayton
  • John Campbell
  • William Shakespeare
  • William Wordsworth
  • Isaac Watts

Visiting Westminster Abbey Poets' Corner

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Frequently asked questions about Westminster Abbey Poets' Corner

What is Westminster Abbey Poets' Corner?

Westminster Abbey follows a lovely tradition of commemorating some of the most famous authors, poets and other artists in a dedicated section within the abbey called Poets' Corner.

How did Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner come into existence?

When Edmund Spenser requested to be buried next to Geoffrey Chaucer, it marked the beginning of a tradition of Poets' Corner where many other poets, authors and other artists were buried or commemorated here with memorials, busts, floor stones, and many more.

Can I visit Westminster Abbey Poets' Corner?

Yes, you may visit the Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey. You will have to book tickets to Westminster Abbey, which you can easily book online here.

Who was the first poet commemorated in Poets' Corner?

Geoffrey Chaucer was the first poet to be buried in Poets' Corner in 1400, marking the beginning of this literary tradition.

Who else is buried at Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner?

Rudyard Kipling, Bronte Sisters, Jane Austin, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and George Frideric Handel are some of the literature legends who are buried at Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner.

What kind of memorials are used at Westminster Abbey Poets' Corner?

Apart from burials and tombs, the Poets' Corner also includes memorial busts, monuments, floor stones, wall stones, panels, and much more.

Can any writer be commemorated in Poets' Corner?

Commemoration in Poets' Corner is reserved for those who have contributed significantly to British literature and culture, typically decided by the abbey's authorities.

Are there any female writers commemorated in Poets' Corner?

Several notable female writers, including Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Virginia Woolf, are commemorated in Poets' Corner.

Is there a fee to access Poets' Corner?

Access to Poets' Corner is included in the general admission ticket for Westminster Abbey.

Can I take photographs of the memorials in Poets' Corner?

Photography at the Poets' Corner is generally allowed, but you cannot use flash or bring selfie sticks or tripods.

Are there any special events or readings held in Poets' Corner?

Special events, such as readings and commemorations, are held periodically. These events are typically listed on the Abbey's official website or through their public announcements.