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.



Tales by Chapter

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