We were invited to see the new Diamond Jubilee Galleries in the triforium of Westminster Abbey, an amazing piece of high-quality new build in the spaces wrapped around the chancel, designed by Ptolemy Dean, the current Surveyor of the Fabric. The exhibits themselves have been designed by MUMA, currently working on the masterplan for the Fitzwilliam.
I was particularly fascinated to see fragments of the Catholic chapel, designed by Wren for Whitehall Palace, saved from the 1698 fire, and then reinstalled by Wren as Surveyor in Westminster Abbey, until removed for the Coronation of George IV in 1821.
There’s a drawing by Hawksmoor, dated 1731, of ‘The North Front of ye Collegiate Church of Westminster With ye 2 West Towers and the middle Lantern as intended’ (he described the church as ‘now in a Sad Ruinous and unfinished Condition’).
Then, on the other side, there’s the Funeral effigy of Anne of Bohemia, wife of Richard II, made out of oak; Henry VII, based on a death mask; his wife, Elizabeth of York; and Elizabeth I’s corset.
Beyond, you meet wax effigies of Charles II and William and Mary, which used to be displayed in the nave as a tourist attraction.
The spaces are wonderful, looking out on to gargoyles and flying buttresses and down into Poet’s Corner and the nave.