Royal Grounds: Public Invited To Walk On Westminster Abbey's Cosmati Pavement For The First Time


King Charles III will be crowned on this historical pavement on May 6, and visitors are actually welcome to visit—provided that they only wear socks. 

Planning to pay a visit to London in the coming months? Then perhaps you’d want to book a trip to Westminster Abbey, where visitors can walk across the very same grounds where King Charles III’s coronation will take place. 

More specifically, the public will be allowed to step foot on the Cosmati pavement for the first time in living memory, according to Westminster Abbey in an official statement

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Monumental Masterpiece

The beautiful Cosmati pavement is a work of pure craftsmanship that dates back to the 13th century, and is composed of marble, stone, glass, and metal. 

The men who worked on the flooring were actually from Rome, and specialized in a technique called opus sectile (“cut work”).This yielded an inimitable mosaic made up of differently sized stones cut into a variety of shapes, creating a design that stood apart from ancient Roman and early medieval mosaics. 

Cosmati Pavement at Westminster Abbey London
A close-up of the pavement’s colorful stone mosaic designs/Photo from Westminster Abbey’s official website
Cosmati Pavement at Westminster Abbey London 1268
Cosmati pavement dates back to 1268/Photo via Instagram @westminsterabbeylondon

“It’s a unique piece of art to Westminster Abbey but also to Britain itself—there are no other mosaic pavements like this in the U.K.,” shared Vanessa Simeoni, the abbey’s head conservator, to the Associated Press.

The abbey where the pavement is situated is also quite the historical location, having been the venue for several royal weddings, including Prince William and Kate Middleton’s matrimony. 

Careful Strolling

The abbey has offered a guided “Crown and Church” tour that would brief guests on the royal history and story behind the unique Cosmati pavement. 

While tour dates have already sold out, Westminster shared that it may add more opportunities and coronation events in the foreseeable future—which include a special exhibit, high tea, and much more. 

What makes the pavement tour so monumental? It mainly has to do with the site being normally roped off; this would be the first time guests will get to witness the historical marvel up close in this day and age, as only royalty has been granted access to the site. The pavement actually fell into disrepair following Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953. The area has been covered in protective carpeting since the 1870s, and only recently underwent a two-year conservation project that was finished in 2010. After all, experts had to decide on the best ways to preserve the pavement’s 740-year-old stones. 

Cosmati Pavement at Westminster Abbey London
A bird’s-eye view of the central section of Cosmati pavement/Photo from Westminster Abbey’s official website

However, even after conservation, the abbey is still practicing caution with the precious flooring. That’s why they’ve instructed guests to remove their shoes and only walk across the Cosmati’s surface with socks to avoid damaging the mosaic. Bare feet are, of course, also off-limits for hygiene reasons. Odd as it might seem to walk on such an important site with only one’s socks, to many, it’s certainly worth the once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Cosmati Pavement at Westminster Abbey London
Stepping foot on the Cosmati pavement, but only with socks/Photo from Westminster Abbey’s official website

“Standing on the pavement and feeling that sense of awe of being in the central part of the abbey is a really amazing experience,” shared Scott Craddock, the head of visitor experience at Westminster, to the Associated Press. “It will give people the opportunity to feel what it’s like being at that center stage of the coronation.”

Photo from Westminster Abbey’s official website.

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