Westminster Abbey is a living building. It’s been constructed, altered and added to over its over 1,000 years of history. It is not a static building, stuck in time. And the big news is that Westminster Abbey has officially added a new tower to the building. The newly named Weston Tower, so named after the organization that paid for it, will provide access to the new museum opening in June.
As we’ve reported previously, Westminster Abbey is opening up a new museum in its Triforium (the areas above and around the Nave that are usually storage areas). It’s an area that was previously cut off from public access mostly because it was completely inaccessible. To accommodate the new museum and make it accessible to visitors, a new tower needed to be constructed offering stairs and lift access.
The chaps that run the abbey did not take making an addition to it lightly. In fact, as a protected building, multiple government levels of approval had to be sorted out. The Weston Tower was designed by Ptolemy Dean, the Abbey’s Surveyor of the Fabric (Consultant Architect). It’s located just outside Poets’ Corner, tucked between Abbey’s thirteenth century Chapter House and sixteenth-century Lady Chapel. The design takes inspiration from a pattern often found in the Abbey: a star shape derived from two rotating squares. The result is a stunning work of modern architecture that blends in sympathetically with it’s the older building.
I quite like it – it’s bold but sympathetic. I’m sure there will be many people that will hate it. But the positive thing is that you can’t really see it from the street anyway and it won’t affect how we generally see Westminster Abbey. It will just blend in, like every other addition to the building in its 1,000-year history.
Visitors will have a chance to see it for themselves when the new Queen’s Jubilee Galleries open in June. Our London Correspondent, Laura Porter, will be checking out the new museum for us at the press launch so stay tuned!