More than 30 members enjoyed a delightful visit to the new Queen’s Jubilee Galleries (or Triforium) in Westminster Abbey.  We have already reviewed the opening in June but this took nothing away from a remarkable experience. We were welcomed in the Chapter House by Tony Trowles, Head of the Abbey Collection.  He described the work of Ptolemy Dean Architect and exhibition designers MUMA that made the new external access tower and exhibition space possible.  He thanked the Society for their valuable contributions at design and planning stages in 2014.
The new spiral glass staircase did not disappoint with stunning close up views of the Chapter House windows, rows of gargoyles and beyond to the Houses of Parliament.  The materials and craftsmanship in the construction and finish was of the highest quality befitting the Abbey and shards of medieval stained glass, found by cleaners under the floor, had been incorporated into the new glass panes. Once in the Triforium the space is calm and gently lit behind huge carved leaded arch windows.  We walked on the wooden floor put in by Sir Christopher Wren who, we have recently learned, appointed a woman, Elizabeth Gregory to be head carpenter there to finish his work, circa 1700.
The views down onto the Abbey floor are magnificent and it is easy to imagine it as a popular viewing gallery at many coronations and funerals. 16 metres below, a perfect view of the normally inaccessible Henry V Chantry Chapel and Poets Corner.
The Galleries show over 300 objects belonging to the Abbey and collected over centuries.  Including, several carved wooden royal funeral effigies including of Henry VII and also Nelson, an early Roman sarcophagus (which had been re-used down the centuries), ancient illuminated books and documents including what was known as the Westminster Domesday Book of the 1300s which was compiled by the monks as a record of major grants and the travelling filing chest of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, who inherited the vast House of Lancaster and was a very shrewd businesswoman who kept a very close eye on the management of the estates.
Our thanks to the Dean and Chapter for putting this special visit into place.  For those who missed it, you will have to pay £22 entrance fee to get into the Abbey and another £5 to visit the Galleries but armed with a (free) Westminster residents card and a secondary proof of identity such as a driving licence, you can get into the Abbey for free, then just pay £5 and also you do not have to queue !
Photographs with the kind permission of Westminster Abbey.