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The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries to open on 11th June

Monday, 4th June 2018

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries to open on 11th June

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries will open at Westminster Abbey on Monday 11th June.

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 Galleries will reflect the Abbey’s thousand-year history.

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 Galleries tell the story of Westminster Abbey in four themes:

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 11th 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 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 open to the public at 10.00am on Monday 11th 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.

I feel very privileged to work here. I take so much pride in working for a beautiful place like the Abbey, it’s unique.

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Alex - Abbey Marshal

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