29/06/2009

Westminster Abbey Invites Public Comment On Development Plans

The Dean and Chapter of Westminster are considering a new addition to the roof of Westminster Abbey which will enhance London's historic skyline and build on the work of Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor and George Gilbert Scott.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, has announced an exhibition setting out the Abbey's development plans and inviting public comment on its proposal to construct a corona, a crowning feature on the roof of the Abbey, in time to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of The Queen's Coronation in June 2013.

The corona, an architectural feature in the shape of a crown, would replace the small plain pyramid roof on top of the Lantern, which was re-built in 1958 to repair war damage. Underneath, in the church itself, is the Crossing, the heart of the Abbey where monarchs have been crowned since 1066. Through the centuries the Abbey's architects have put forward various schemes for this unfinished part of the Abbey but none have been realised.

No views have yet been taken about the form of a suitable design. That will be the subject of an architectural competition if, following public reaction, it is decided to go ahead.

Dr Hall will also announce that the Abbey plans to open up its upper gallery, known as the Triforium, to provide public access for the first time to this dramatic and important part of the Abbey and to house a new museum and exhibition space which will show many more of its historic treasures and artefacts which at present it is unable to put on public display.

A lift will have to be built in a discreet corner on the Abbey's south face to take some of the people up to the Triforium. There are equally important plans to improve the welcome and quality of the visit the Abbey is able to offer by the opening of an education centre for school children, and a café to provide better refreshments for the million visitors who come to the Abbey each year.

The proposals are all part of the Abbey's development plan, 2020 Vision, which has set an agenda over the next decade for the world-famous coronation church in the heart of London.

Final decisions will be influenced by the views of members of the public who will be invited to comment on the plans - which would then follow the normal route to obtain local planning consent.

(CD/JM)

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