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How and When to Visit Westminster Cathedral

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This post covers how to get to the top of Westminster Cathedral, when mass is held, how to hear the Westminster Choir, and other important details.


Overview

There are a lot of churches in London, but this is perhaps one of the most noteworthy religious sites in the city. 

Serving as the mother church for the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Westminster Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Westminster.

This is the largest Catholic church in the entire United Kingdom, and it was built in the neo-Byzantine architectural style in 1903.

Westminster Cathedral is located just south of Buckingham Palace, a leisurely 5-10 minute walk from The Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews.

A lot of hop-on, hop-off bus tours have stops at or near Buckingham Palace, so that’s actually one of the easiest ways to reach the cathedral if you’re already planning to use these services.

That being said, you can also get here from Victoria Station, which is about a 5 minute walk from the cathedral. Along the way you can even see Little Ben!

Check our post on how to use the London Underground for more details on how to get to Victoria Station.

There are also bus stops on Vauxhall Bridge Road and Victoria Street which service the following bus routes:

  • Vauxhall Bridge Road | Neathouse Place (Stop L)
    • 2, 36, 185, N2, N136
  • Westminster Cathedral | Victoria Station (Stop M)
  • Westminster City Call | (Stop SB)
    • 11, 24, 148, 211, 507, N11, N44, N136

No matter how you choose to get here, some walking will likely be required. Thankfully, the cathedral is pretty close to a lot of public transport stops and other notable sites you will probably want to see while sightseeing in Westminster.


How to Get to the Top of Westminster Cathedral

The Westminster Cathedral has a relatively tall bell tower which stretches 87 metres (284 ft) into the sky. The Campanile Bell Tower has a viewing gallery which is 64 metres (210 ft) high, and it offers some of the best views in Westminster.

The Tower Viewing Gallery offers excellent views of nearby sites such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, and many other notable sites in the area.

There is also an exhibition of drawings which illustrate the design of the Westminster Cathedral, giving you insight into how the building was constructed.

You’ll need a ticket to visit this viewing gallery, but prices are very reasonable:

  • £6/Adults
  • £3/Concessions (Children, Seniors)
  • £12/Family (2 Adults, 4 Children)

The Campanile Bell Tower Viewing Gallery is usually open during the following hours:

  • Mon - Fri | 9:30 am - 5 pm
  • Sat & Sun | 9:30 am - 6 pm
  • Holidays | 9:30 am - 6 pm

NOTE: The tower is currently closed due to the pandemic as of September 2021.


Attending Mass at Westminster Cathedral

Mass is typically held multiple times per day. While some hours change from time to time, you can usually expect Mass to be held during the following time frames:

  • 8 am
  • 10:30 am (Latin)
  • 12:30 pm (often live streamed)
  • 17:30 (5:30 pm) - 19:00 (7 pm)

The cathedral itself opens at 7:30 am each morning. They will often provide Morning Prayer time between the period when their doors open to the public and Mass is held (7:30 am - 8 am).

For official information about their plans on the day you intend to visit, please check the Westminster Cathedral Mass Times calendar.


When to See the Westminster Choir 

The Westminster Choir often performs Sung Mass, First Vespers, Solemn Vespers and Benediction, and Solemn Mass at various times throughout the week.

While there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to see or hear the choir on any given day, there are certain time periods when they will typically be performing throughout the week.

Here are the most frequent times you can expect the choir to perform:

  • Sung Mass on Weekdays | 17:30 (5:30 pm)
  • First Vespers on Saturday | 17:30 (5:30 pm)
  • Sung Morning Prayer on Sunday | 9:30 am
  • Sung Mass on Sunday | 10 am
  • Solemn Mass on Sunday | 12 pm
  • Solemn Vespers and Benediction on Sunday | 16:00 (4 pm)

As you can see, the best time to hear them is on Sunday, which makes sense since that is an important day of worship. However, if you want to hear them on weekdays, plan to come around 17:30 (5:30 pm).

For a full list of choir times, check the Westminster Cathedral Mass calendar.


About The Author

Margaret

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries.
Updated: October 12th, 2021
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