There’s a new reason to visit one of London’s oldest, best-known attractions. Everyone knows about Westminster Abbey’s ornate chapels and royal tombs, but few are aware that above it all sits a medieval attic, known as the “triforium”. Sir John Betjeman, former poet laureate of the United Kingdom, once called it “the best view in Europe”, though few have actually been able to experience it, as the attic has been closed to the general public for the past 700 years.
On June 11, however, the triforium is opening as a new museum, call the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. The space will showcase 300 artifacts from the Abbey’s 1,000-year history, and be accessible by a brand new tower, designed by architect Ptolemy Dean. The tower blends a contemporary aesthetic with gothic elements, like stained glass shards incorporated into the windows, and a star-shaped layout inspired by a motif found in the Henry VII Lady Chapel.
Once inside the attic, visitors will find hundreds of relics organized into four themes: Building Westminster Abbey, Worship and Daily Life, Westminster Abbey and the Monarchy, and the Abbey and National Memory. Some pieces visitors might want to pay special attention to include a lifelike funeral effigy of Henry VII, the coronation chair of Mary II, and a 300-year-old stuffed African Grey parrot that was a companion of Frances Stuart. For royal wedding enthusiasts, the wedding certificate of Prince William and Kate Middleton is also on display.
The dean of Westminster Abbey, John Hall, said in a statement that “people will be amazed and thrilled at the space and the views, as well as the astonishingly rich collection of objects on display.”
For fans of British history, the attic doesn’t seem likely to disappoint. And hey, it only took 700 years.