Westminster Abbey Museum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Westminster Abbey Museum was located in the 11th-century vaulted undercroft beneath the former monks' dormitory in Westminster Abbey, London, England. This is one of the oldest areas of the Abbey, dating back almost to the foundation of the Norman church by Edward the Confessor in 1065. This space had been used as a museum since 1908.[1]


The exhibits included a unique collection of royal and other funeral effigies (funeral saddle, helm and shield of Henry V), together with other treasures, including some panels of medieval glass, 12th-century sculpture fragments, Mary II's coronation chair and replicas of the coronation regalia. There also were effigies of Edward III, Henry VII and his queen, Elizabeth of York, Charles II, William III, Mary II and Queen Anne.

Later wax effigies included a likeness of Horatio, Viscount Nelson, wearing some of his own clothes and another of Prime Minister William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, modelled by the American-born sculptor Patience Wright.[citation needed] During recent conservation of Elizabeth I's effigy a unique corset dating from 1603 was found on the figure, which was displayed separately.[citation needed]

A recent addition to the display was the late 13th-century Westminster Retable, England's oldest altarpiece, which was most probably designed for the High Altar of the Abbey. Although damaged in past centuries, the panel has been expertly cleaned and conserved.

This Museum has now closed, and will re-open in June 2018 in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries, high up in the triforium of the main Abbey building.


  1. ^ Trowles, T. (2008) Treasures of Westminster Abbey, London: Scala, p. 156. ISBN 978-1-85759-454-6

Further reading[edit]

  • Nixon, Enid (1989). "Problems and Rewards of the Small Museum Complex at Westminster Abbey". International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship. 8 (3): 279–290. doi:10.1080/09647778909515171. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°29′56″N 0°07′39″W / 51.49876°N 0.12753°W / 51.49876; -0.12753