The real story of Westminster Abbey begins with Edward the Confessor. In 1042 Edward returned from exile after the death of Harthacanute. Edward had made a vow of pilgrimage to Rome, but the nobles that were advising him persuaded the King that his position as head of the country was too important to go on such a risky journey. The Pope sent word that Edward was released from the vow if he instead built a church in honour of St. Peter. To this Edward agreed and in 1050 work began on the Thorney Island site. The abbey was dedicated in 1065 just weeks before Edward died. He was buried in his new church in January of 1066. The new church was the site of another important event in 1066 when William the Conqueror was crowned King of England on 25 December.
The body of Edward was moved first in the reign of Henry II and then again by his grandson Henry III who began rebuilding the church starting with the Lady Chapel in around 1220. In 1245, in tribute to Edward the Confessor, Henry started much larger and expensive reconstruction work of the whole church. Enough of the new building was ready in 1269 for the church to be consecrated and the coffin of the Confessor to be moved again into its new home.
The abbey has been the main site for the coronation of English Kings and Queens since then and holds the remains of both the nobility and ordinary people. A Lady Chapel was constructed at the east end of the cathedral and, as it holds the remains of King Henry VII, is known as the Henry VII Chapel. The Italian scupltor Torrigiano was given the job of designing and constructing the King's tomb. Also buried here are the monarchs Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.