Westminster’s Big Organ – Music

“What’s next,” I asked as we finished up our Westminster Arms fish and chips.

“Westminster Abbey for the organ recital.”

Both my mother and my grandmother played the organ in church so I have a small appreciation for grand, bellowing organ music.  But I wasn’t certain how I was going to sell Ace, Mark and Susan on the idea.

Leaving the pub, we kissed the Queen good-bye then walked to Westminster Abbey.  Standing outside the front doors, the children surveyed the enormous cathedral surrounded by saints and correctly anticipated TV would not be involved.

I tried distracting them.

“See the Lion and the Unicorn.  The Lion represents England and the Unicorn represents Scotland where your Burns ancestors came from.”

My kids knew when I called up the ancestors it meant a history lesson.

“Why are we here?” they tried not to moan.

“We are going to a concert.  This is where Prince William and Kate Middleton were married,” I began.

Their eyes glazed over.  Only my friend Deborah and I toasted their marriage ceremony last year.

“Queen Elizabeth was crowned here sixty years ago.”

They sighed.

As it happened we were visiting July 17th, a week before the 503rd anniversary of the Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon’s coronation.

“King Henry the VIII was also crowned here,” I continued.   “Do you remember which wife was made Queen? “  I directed my question at Susan who had dressed as Henry VIII on Tudor Day.

“The first one, Catherine,” Susan said.


Luckily the doors opened and we flowed in with the waiting crowd.

At 5:45 Martin Ford, the Assistant Organist appointed in January, began Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in C minor.  Although we could not see him, based on the program, he is quite young.  As the program suggested, at the end of the piece, we kindly reserved our applause.

After the second piece, William Byrd’s Fantasia in A, our friend and his six-year old daughter had disappeared.  During the fourth and final piece, Toccata by Lanquetuit, several people turned around to smile at the sleeping Ace, Mark, Susan, their friend and Mojo.

At least there was no snoring.

Westminster Abbey hosts a free organ recital every Sunday at 5:45.  It’s a nice, civilized way to enjoy the cathedral when you visit London.

Next door is the official gift shop selling royal souvenirs.

The Westminster Arms is a block way on the other side of the park green.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Debbie Al Asfoor
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 11:51:17

    Isn’t Westminster Abbey just incredible! I get “goosebumps” walking in to such a magnificant old structure. Just love the organ recitals, reminds me of having to attend chapel several afternoons a week at school but I loved it…. especially the smell of incense being wafted around. I always felt a sense of serentiy in the chapel and loved singing along to the organ. I’m hugely envious and can’t wait to get to good old “Blighty”.


    • Eva the Dragon
      Jul 11, 2012 @ 01:12:11

      All and all it was fun. No one seems to be too worried about having spent a half hour in the abbey.

      I hope you enjoy your summer and become refreshed with all that London has to offer.


  2. winfredpeppinck
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 11:56:46

    Good for you, Eva, giving the kids a bit of kultcha. As a child I was made to go to concerts, and I only appreciated it afterwards, and then wished I had been more attentive way back then. Last week I visited both Salisbury and Winchester, both great cathedral cities, and there too, the big organs were grinding out the notes while chorists added the overtly human element (The organ player was similarly hidden like your Westminister chappie, and probably watching over things on CCTV). It was indeed, beautiful, indeed, saintly. But like so many eartly pleasures, it was short lived. No sooner was I outside Winchester cathedral and the sky was even bedecked with bits of blue (a rarity during our fortnight in England!) when my head simply dismissed the earlier grandeur of occasion. “Winchester cathedral, you’re bring me down, You stood and you watched when, my baby left town …” Yes, Bach might be beautiful but Rudy Vallee was a real ripper and his megaphone version stayed in my head for a whole week! Now to start on my travel tales and to try and get Rudy out of my head!!


    • Eva the Dragon
      Jul 11, 2012 @ 01:10:34

      I think you should be pleased to have such great weather while you are on vacation. Enjoy your travels.

      Of course having to follow our parents to museums etc can be a bit of a drag when young. I know I used to complain about it. But one day they will remember it and be thankful they had the opportunity.


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