PUBLIC OPENING: 11 JUNE 2018

The new galleries are set more than 16 metres (52 feet) above the Abbey’s floor in the medieval Triforium, an area that has never been open to the public before. Displaying 300 treasures from the Abbey’s Collection, many for the first time, the new galleries will reflect the Abbey’s thousand-year history.

Having lain unused for centuries, the Triforium has been transformed by London-based architecture practice, MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects). Known for their crafted use of materials and sensitive response to a building’s context, they have designed a spectacular new addition that will allow the public to deepen their understanding of a royal church which has been at the centre of the nation for centuries.   

Visitors will reach the Galleries through a new tower, housing a staircase and lift. Named the Weston Tower, this is the first major addition to the Abbey church since 1745. Designed by Ptolemy Dean, the Abbey’s Surveyor of the Fabric (Consultant Architect), the tower is outside Poets’ Corner, tucked between the Abbey’s thirteenth century Chapter House and sixteenth century Lady Chapel.

The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, said: ‘We look forward to welcoming visitors to the Galleries. The views are breathtaking; the space astonishing; the displays fascinating. The visitor will gain far greater insight into the life and history of the Abbey than ever before. The fulfilment of this vision is a shared achievement with so many people involved. We are profoundly grateful.’

The galleries tell the story of Westminster Abbey in four themes: Building Westminster Abbey, Worship and Daily Life, Westminster Abbey and the Monarchy and The Abbey and National Memory.

Building Westminster Abbey charts the foundations of the first Benedictine monastery in AD 960, through its life as Edward the Confessor’s Church, and the extensive repair programme during Sir Christopher Wren’s role as Surveyor of the Fabric (1698 – 1723). Visitors are able to see for the first time a column capital from the cloister of St Edward the Confessor’s Church (around 1100), along with an intricate scale model of Westminster Abbey (1714-16) commissioned by Sir Christopher Wren with a massive central spire which was planned, but never built.

Worship and Daily Life gives insight into the life of a working church with daily worship at its heart. Artefacts demonstrating the long history of worship in the building include The Westminster Retable, (1259 – 69) the oldest surviving altarpiece in England from Henry III’s Abbey, and the Litlyngton Missal, an illuminated 14th-century service book made for the Abbey’s high altar.

Westminster Abbey and the Monarchy looks at its special relationship with the Crown. The Abbey, a Royal Peculiar under the direct authority of the Monarch, has been the Coronation church since 1066.  Mary II’s Coronation Chair (1689), created for William III and Mary II’s joint coronation (the only joint coronation in English history) is on display as is the marriage licence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (2011).

The Abbey and National Memory shows how Westminster Abbey has developed into a place of commemoration and remembrance. As well as kings and queens, many notable Britons such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Sir Isaac Newton are buried and memorialised here. Since 11 November 1920 the Abbey has also become a particular focus for Remembrance following the burial of the Unknown Warrior. Three early guidebooks, including The Gigantick History of Westminster Abbey, which was designed for children in 1742, reveal the Abbey’s special place in the heart of the nation from a much earlier time.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries form the final phase of the Dean and Chapter’s 2020 Vision development plan, which set out to offer a more comprehensive and generous welcome to the two million people who come annually to the Abbey as worshippers and visitors. The total project cost has been £22.9m, all of which has been met by private donors and trusts.

The galleries open to the public at 10.00 am on Monday 11 June. Admission is £5.00, bought in conjunction with an Abbey entry ticket. Timed tickets will be available on the door on the day. From July 2018 tickets will be available online: www.westminster-abbey.org/galleries

For more information, images or interview request contact:

Westminster Abbey Communications E: press@westminster-abbey.org | T: 020 7654 4926

Charlotte Sluter at Sutton E: charlottes@suttonpr.com | T: 020 7183 3577

NOTES TO EDITORS

Listings

Address: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, Westminster Abbey, London, SW1P 3PA

Tickets: Westminster Abbey adults from £20.00 | concessions £17.00 | children under 5 free | children 6-16 £9.00 | 2 adults + 1 child - £40.00 | 2 adults + 2 children - £45.00

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries additional £5.00 | children 16 and under no additional charge

Abbey Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9.30am – 4.30pm (last entry 3.30pm)| Sat (summer) 9.00 am-4.00 pm (last entry 3pm) | Sat (winter) 9.00 am-2.00 pm (last entry 1.00pm) | Wednesday Lates 4.30pm – 7pm (last entry 6.00 pm)

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10.00 am-4.00 pm (last entry 3.00 pm)| Sat (summer) 9.30am-3.30pm (last entry 2.30)| Sat (winter) 10.00 am-2.00 pm (last entry 1pm)

Website: www.westminster-abbey.org

Twitter: @wabbey

Instagram: westminsterabbeylondon

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WestminsterAbbeyLondon

YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/WestminsterAbbeyLondon

 

About Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is one of the world’s great churches, welcoming over two million worshippers and visitors annually. It has a history stretching back over a thousand years with the shrine of the Anglo-Saxon king and saint, Edward the Confessor, at the heart of the building. Since Edward’s death in January 1066, his successor monarchs have come to this church for their coronation, and seventeen of them lie buried within its walls.

Neither a cathedral nor a parish church, Westminster Abbey was established as a ‘Royal Peculiar’ in 1560 by Queen Elizabeth I. As such, the Abbey is outside the jurisdiction of the Church of England. The Abbey receives no maintenance funding from Church or State. 

Over 3,300 people are buried or memorialised in Westminster Abbey, and the many tombs and memorials form an extraordinary collection of monumental sculpture. No other church in the land has a history so inextricably bound up with that of the people of the British Isles and the lives they have lived both at home and overseas.