Introducing the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey
On 11 June, Westminster Abbey opened its first major structural addition in 250 years, which leads to a beautiful new museum in the roof.
The Abbey’s new Weston Tower gives access to the triforium, which is the traditional name given to any elevated church gallery. The Weston Tower’s design was inspired by star-shaped symbols that can be found around the Abbey, and its look reflects the building’s style. This is only half of the story however, because the tower contains both a staircase and a lift that leads to its new museum, which is 16 metres (52 feet) above the ground.
This part of the Abbey, which has never before been open to the public, offers panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the Houses of Parliament. Here you will find a new museum, called The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. Its four displays tell the story of Westminster Abbey, using more than 300 artefacts. The Abbey’s biggest moment in recent years was the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and here, the couple’s marriage licence is on display. Another highlight is the Westminster Retable, which is England’s oldest altarpiece and dates back to 1259.
This magnificent painting of the Queen is also on display, which was painted by Ralph Heimans to commemorate her diamond jubilee (60 years on the throne). Called ‘The Coronation Theatre’, it’s so large that it had to be lifted into the galleries from the ground, through a window!