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ABOUT WESTMINSTER

Westminster is a district in central London, part of the wider City of Westminster.

HISTORY OF WESTMINSTER

The legendary origin is that in the early 7th century, a local fisherman named Edric (or Aldrich), ferried a stranger in tattered foreign clothing over the Thames to Thorney Island. It was a miraculous appearance of St Peter, a fisherman himself, coming to the island to consecrate the newly built church, which would subsequently develop into Westminster Abbey. He rewarded Edric with a bountiful catch when he next dropped his nets. Edric was instructed to present the King and St. Mellitus, Bishop of London with a salmon and various proofs that the consecration had already occurred. Every year on 29 June, St Peters day, the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers presents the Abbey with some salmon in memory of this event. 

A charter of 785, possibly a forgery, grants land to the needy people of God in Thorney, in the dreadful spot which is called Westminster. The text suggests a pre-existing monastic community who chose to live in an incredibly challenging location.

The recorded origins of the Abbey (rather than a less important religious site) date to the 960s or early 970s when Saint Dunstan and King Edgar installed a community of Benedictine monks on the site. 

Between 1042 and 1052, King Edward the Confessor began rebuilding St Peter's Abbey to provide himself with a royal burial church. It was the first church in England built in the Romanesque style. The building was completed around 1060 and was consecrated on 28 December 1065, only a week before Edward's death on 5 January 1066. A week later, he was buried in the church; and, nine years later, his wife Edith was buried alongside him. His successor, Harold II, was probably crowned in the abbey, although the first documented coronation is that of William the Conqueror later the same year. 

The only extant depiction of Edward's abbey, together with the adjacent Palace of Westminster, is in the Bayeux Tapestry. Some of the lower parts of the monastic dormitory, an extension of the South Transept, survive in the Norman Undercroft of the Great School, including a door said to come from the previous Saxon abbey. Increased endowments supported a community that increased from a dozen monks in Dunstan's original foundation, up to a maximum of about eighty monks.

PROPERTY IN WESTMINSTER

Home to the Houses of Parliament, much of this City centre area is taken up with government and public buildings. Extraordinarily little housing is found in the area, with the exception of some properties around Victoria Street and Vauxhall Bridge Road. The City of Westminster however covers many districts where residential properties of all types can be found, including Pimlico and Marylebone. Smaller flats can be found on the Millbank Estate, nearer the river, a stone's throw from the world-famous Tate Britain art gallery.

LIVING IN WESTMINSTER

An area with a high number of visitor attractions in the heart of Westminster including Buckingham Palace and Westminster Cathedral, leaves little room for a large number of shops, bars and restaurants, but with easy access to many well known areas including Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, Piccadilly Circus, Jermyn Street and Oxford Street, you don't have to travel far to find some of the best restaurants, shops and entertainment in London. Over the past few years much investment has been ploughed into the Victoria Street shopping area, with a new cinema, many more restaurants, and its own theatre - St James's Theatre, just north of Victoria Street. Do not forget Tate Britain down near the river which houses fine examples of British art and sculpture.

SCHOOLS IN WESTMINSTER

Westminster School consistently ranks as one of the top schools in Westminster. An independent school for boys and girls, the school’s alumni include current Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson. Westminster School has the highest acceptance rates to Oxford University and Cambridge University when compared with all other secondary schools around the world.

Another good choice is The Grey Coat Hospital, a comprehensive girls’ school. Examination results are known for being outstanding, and this year over 82% of students achieved five or more A* – C grades in their GCSEs.

If you are looking at primary schools, the Hampden Gurney Primary School is a Church of England school which has a strong ethos and a great track record in examination results.