Westminster Abbey unveils hidden abbot's hall


 Part of Westminster Abbey will be open to visitors this year, for the first time in centuries. The public will be allowed to enter the mediaeval abbot's dining hall on certain days in July and August as part of a festival to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee. Currently the 600-year-old hall is used as a refectory for pupils from Westminster School. Hidden away in a courtyard off the cloisters, the hall still has its original timbered ceiling. Coats of arms adorn the walls above the high table where the abbot used to sit, and the room is overlooked by a musicians' gallery dating back to Jacobean times. The long oak tables are said to have been made from the wrecked ships of the Spanish Armada. More than 80 other buildings along the Thames are also taking part in what is being called The String of Pearls Golden Jubilee Festival. Others offering people a rare glimpse inside include Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury's official residence and St Martin-in-the-Fields church.

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