Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic church in the City of Westminster, London, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the most notable religious buildings in the United Kingdom and has been the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The abbey is a Royal Peculiar and between 1540 and 1556 had the status of a cathedral; the building is no longer an abbey nor cathedral however, having instead the status since 1560 of a "Royal Peculiar" – a church responsible directly to the Sovereign.
According to a tradition first reported by Sulcard in about 1080, a church was founded at the site (then known as Thorn Ey (Thorn Island)) in the 7th century, at the time of Mellitus (d. 624), a Bishop of London. Construction of the present church began in 1245, on the orders of Henry III.
Since 1066, when Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror were crowned, the coronations of English and British monarchs have been held here. Since 1100, there have been at least 16 royal weddings at the abbey. Two were of reigning monarchs (Henry I and Richard II), although before 1919 there had been none for some 500 years.
Westminster Abbey and its close formed an extra-parochial area, formally known as the Close of the Collegiate Church of St Peter. This area became a civil parish in 1858. In 1889 it was transferred from Middlesex to the newly-created County of London. In 1900 it became part of the Westminster Metropolitan Borough, which replaced the ancient Liberty of Westminster. Westminster Metropolitan Borough was abolished in 1965, becoming part of the City of Westminster.