Many thanks to our guides John and Bernie and to the Cardinal Archbishop for the tour of this wonderful 'modern' Cathedral on Victoria Street.  Completed in 1903 in a neo-Byzantine style to be different from the Abbey and St Paul's, we were shown beautiful examples of Cosmati marble floors, Arts and Crafts carved furniture, lanterns copied from the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and of course the famous mosiacs.  The views from the top of the Campanile tower were still wide reaching despite a grey day!


 Visit to Westminster Cathedral - May 2019


One of the delights of being a member of the Thorney Island Society is that we visit places that are not normally open to the public. On this memorable visit we we were shown around the hallowed crimson-tinted state rooms of the Speaker of the House of Commons. 

The walls are festooned with magnificent portraits of previous Speakers ranging from Lord Addington (the only one to be both Speaker and Prime Minister) to the present incumbent John Bercow who has broken with tradition by having an action/working portrait of himself in the Chair rather than a formal one in state robes.

Among the highlights were an impressive dining room and a magnificent bed which heirs to the throne have the right to sleep in before their Coronation if they so wish but which hasn’t been used since George lll, quite possibly because, as our guide discreetly pointed out, it is not ensuite. However, in the same room, a large standing mirror is used by the Queen when she dresses for the State Opening of Parliament.

These are formal state rooms in which the spirit of Pugin, who designed the interior, is apparent everywhere, though he never lived to see it for himself. The rooms can only be visited with the permission of the Speaker and his family actually live in separate accommodation upstairs. Our sincere thanks to the Speaker and his Trainbearer, our excellent guide Jim Davey.


Visit to The Speakers House - April 2019 


ONGOING !  This exciting collaboration with St James's Park is calling for volunteers from TTIS to help restore and revitalise Duck Island. If you are interested in helping clear brambles and paths, raking and tidying the meadow area and lake edges, making log and deadwood piles, sorting and documenting artefacts in the barn or helping in the cottage garden, please get in touch to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or post us a note to TTIS, 10 Old Pye Street, SW1P 2DG

This is a really fun project and we are working one Wednesday a month, from 10am to 2pm.  Next dates: 18th Dec '19, 15th Jan '20, 19th Feb, 18th March, 15th April and 20th May 2020.

Go directly to The Royal Parks volunteering website to register CLICK HERE  Then book yourself in on the specific dates under "TRP Conservation Volunteers"




The Society's AGM was held on 13th November 2018 at the Grange Rochester Hotel.  The meeting was pleased to welcome Ptolemy Dean, architect of the new Weston Tower leading to the Queen's Jubilee Galleries and 19th Surveryor of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey, who gave an excellent talk with slides on the background, design and construction of the tower and explained some of the future plans and challenges facing the Abbey in order to improve the overall visitor experience, ticket hall, security check and storage areas.

Please click below to view:

Annual Report

Financial Statements




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.