Skip to content

Get in touch

Membership of the Company is drawn from the security industry in its widest sense and includes leading security professionals from the industrial and retail sectors, serving and retired members of the police and armed services, security consultants, academics, heads of security for corporate businesses, investigators, and electronic surveillance companies.

The Clerk - Adrienne Harper

Phone: +44 (0) 1256 395036‬
36 Queens Rd, North Warnborough, Hampshire, RG29 1DN

"*" indicates required fields

WCoSP Visit to Westminster Abbey

On the afternoon of Tuesday, 5th September 2023, a party of Apprentices and Apprentice Masters visited Westminster Abbey. There is an aura in the Abbey taking visitors back over 1000 years to a number of different periods as well as times of phenomenal wealth and luxury.

The visit was organised and arranged by WCoSP Member Mr Jon Reeves who is the Head of Security at Westminster Abbey and the party of 30 {see picture} consisted of The Master, Mr Russell Penny, IPM Paul Miller, Apprentices, Apprentice Masters and Apprentice Chair Honorary Court Assistant Andrew Knights and AMG member Past Master Yasmeen Stratton.

Despite having run past Westminster Abbey several times in a dash to the District Line, at the start of the visit I remarked that I had never actually been inside. Although the interior is familiar to many, from appearances during grand state occasions, I am very grateful to feel that I saw aspects of the Abbey ‘off the beaten track’, thanks to the thoroughness of our tour guide Jane, and the generosity of our host, Jon Reeves, Head of Security.

Due to the size of the party Jon Reeves had kindly arranged for two guides to be available so the group was divided into two for the tour. I was in Group A with guide Jane while Group B were looked after by guide Howard.

Our tour began behind the Abbey in Dean’s Yard, surrounded by residences and offices, this reminded me that the Abbey is still very much a bustling community as well as a tourist destination. We entered the corridor along the Cloister Garth and Jane explained how the first Benedictine Monks had built the original construction on the site in the 10th Century. This part of the Abbey includes one of the cloister’s first ‘security measures’, the Pyx Chamber which the monks used as a treasury, with its double doors for security.

Next, having passed under the flying buttresses on the other side of the garth, we entered the nave. For me, this entrance was particularly moving, as we immediately saw the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Even on a busy summer’s afternoon, with the Abbey full of visitors, the Tomb remains a respected site of remembrance.

Further down the nave, Jane pointed out Scientists’ Corner to us. In this corner Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are buried, and Stephen Hawking is honoured. Although I knew of famous statesmen being buried in the Abbey, I was unaware that even scientists who have contributed so much to their respective fields are also commemorated there. Jane explained that the coffin of the Unknown Warrior was the last to be buried at the Abbey. Since then, only ashes have been buried.

Unlike shots of the Abbey on television, the tour really allowed me to appreciate the level of craftsmanship and creativity in the building’s fabric. For example, in the Henry VII Lady Chapel, I was amazed by the intricacy of the fan-vaulted ceiling.

At the end of the tour, we saw the Jerusalem Chamber. Today the room is used for senior management meetings and corporate events. However, in 1413 the room played a role in the fate of the throne of England. Henry IV waited here for a blessing from the Dean before embarking on the crusade. The King, who was prophesied to die in Jerusalem, suffered some form of stroke in the chamber. The King came to, but upon hearing he was in ‘Jerusalem’, he died. This story is even woven into Shakespeare’s play on the King.

The tour was followed by teas, coffees and cake and a briefing from Jon Reeves on the challenges of managing the security of a 13th Century church in a 21st Century capital. We learnt about the range of security measures in place at the Abbey, from the deployment of cutting-edge technology, to the use of peregrine falcons for pigeon control! This was especially insightful only four months after the Coronation of King Charles III at the Abbey. The site may have been in use for over 1000 years, but the demands on the security team are changing all the time.

A vote of thanks was given by Apprentice George Wells, who thanked both the tour guides Jane and Howard for their excellent tours supported by a fantastic amount of information. George then thanked Jon Reeves for his time and the effort he had put into planning the visit and for the excellent presentation at the end of the tours. The group then warmly thanked Jon for an excellent visit that was greatly appreciated by all the participants.

Isobel Horsfall, Apprentice

Back To Top