A visit to Houses of Parliament


Houses of Parliament


The Palace of Westminster is the meeting point of your house of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Generally referred to as your homes of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the Middlesex bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London. Its name, which derives from the neighbouring Westminster Abbey, might refer to either of 2 frameworks: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex that was damaged by fire in 1834, and its replacement New Palace that stands today. For ritualistic purposes, the palace preserves its original style and status as a royal residence.Houses of Parliament

The first royal palace was built on the website in the l lth century, and Westminster was the primary London house of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. After that, it acted as the house of Parliament, which had actually been fulfilling there because the thirteenth century, and the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in and around Westminster Hall. In 1834, an even higher fire damaged the greatly rebuilt Houses of Parliament, and the only structures of value to endure were Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephen's, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft and the Jewel Tower.

The succeeding competition for the restoration of the Palace was succeeded by architect Charles Barry and his design for a structure in the Perpendicular Gothic design. The remains of the Old Palace (with the exception of the detached Jewel Tower) were included in its much larger replacement, which contains over 1,100 spaces arranged symmetrically around 2 collection of courtyards. Part of the New Palace's area of 3.24 hectares (8 acres) was reclaimed from the Thames, which is the setup of its principal facade, the 266-metre (873 ft) river front. Barry was assisted by Augustus W. N. Pugin, a leading authority on Gothic architecture and design, who provided designs for the decoration and furnishings of the Palace. Construction goinged in 1840 and lasted for thirty years, suffering excellent delays and expense overruns, as well as the death of both leading architects; works for the interior design continued intermittently well into the twentieth century. Significant conservation work has been carried out because, to reverse the impacts of London's air contamination, and substantial repairs occurred after the Second World War, consisting of the restoration of the Commons Chamber following its battle in 1941.

The Palace is one of the centres of political life in the United Kingdom; "Westminster" has become a metonym for the UK Parliament, and the Westminster system of government has taken its name after it. The Elizabeth Tower, in particular, which is frequently described by the name of its major bell, "Big Ben", is a renowned site of London and the United Kingdom in general, one of the most preferred vacationer destinations in the city and a symbol of parliamentary democracy. The Palace of Westminster has actually been a Grade I detailed structure because 1970 and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

Recent history of the Houses of Parliament

In the course of the German bombing of London during the Second World War (see The Blitz), the Palace of Westminster was hit by bombs on fourteen different occasions. One bomb fell into Old Palace Yard on 26 September 1940 and significantly harmed the south wall of St Stephen's Porch and the west front. Not surprisingly, several MPs became depressed and needed counselling in London. The statuary of Richard the Lionheart was lifted from its pedestal by the force of the blast, and its supported sword bent, an image that was used as a sign of the strength of democracy, "which would flex but not break under attack".An additional bomb destroyed much of the Cloisters on 8 December.

The old chamber of the House of Commons was in use in between 1852 and 1941, when it was damaged by German bombs in the course of the Second World War. There were offices in the loft of the buildings that, as elsewhere, required office clearance in London to preserve important documents. Subsequently, these required roof conversions in London.

The worst raid occurred in the night of 10/11 May 1941, when the Palace took a minimum of twelve hits and three individuals were eliminated. An incendiary bomb struck the chamber of the House of Commons and set it on fire; another set the roofing system of Westminster Hall alight. The firemens can not conserve both, and a choice was taken to try to save the Hall. In this they were successful; the abandoned Commons Chamber, on the other hand, was totally destroyed, as was the Members' Lobby. A bomb also struck the Lords Chamber, however experienced the flooring without blowing up. The Elizabeth Tower took a struck by a small bomb or anti-aircraft shell at the eaves of the roofing, suffering much damage there. All the glass on the south dial was blown out, but the hands and bells were not influenced, and the Great Clock remained to keep time precisely. Following the destruction of the Commons Chamber, the Lords provided their own discussing chamber for using the Commons; for their own sittings the Queen's Robing Room was exchanged a makeshift chamber. The Commons Chamber was reconstructed after the war under the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, in a simplified variation of the old chamber's style. The work was taken on by John Mowlem & Co., and building lasted till 1950, when King George VI opened the brand-new chamber. The Lords Chamber was then refurbished over the following months; the Lords re-occupied it in May 1951. As the requirement for office space in the Palace increased, Parliament got office space in the nearby Norman Shaw Building in 1975, and more just recently in the tailor-made Portcullis House, completed in 2000. This boost has now enabled all MPs to have their own workplace centers.

In 2010, strategies were announced that may see the palace or at least, some parts of the complex of venues, become available for hire as a wedding place, reception hall and so on. This was revealed in a bid to curb spending and in particular, the big costs attributed to the arrangement of catering to the staff and site visitors to the Palace of Westminster. Plans for the Palace of Westminster to become a wedding venue for hire - astonishing to think that we may see wedding entertainers at the Houses of Parliament. As of June 2011, no official conformation of this has been stated though plans are most likely to take a significant amount of time to finalize due to the considerable quantity of bureaucracy and regulation associated with the usage of such a historically important location. There are likewise of course substantial and feasible security issues which would need to be dealt with.


Cromwell Green, outdoors Westminster Hall, is the site of Hamo Thornycroft's bronze statue of Oliver Cromwell, set up amidst controversy in 1899.

There are a number of small gardens, with an elite group of gardeners, bordering the Palace of Westminster. Victoria Tower Gardens is open as a public park along the side of the river south of the palace. Black Rod's Garden (called after the office of Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod) is closed to the general public and is made use of as a personal entrance. Old Palace Yard, in front of the Palace, is paved over and covered in concrete security blocks (see safety below). Cromwell Green (also on the frontage, and in 2006 enclosed by hoardings for the building of a new site visitor center), New Palace Yard (on the north side) and Speaker's Green (directly north of the Palace) are all personal and closed to the public. University Green, opposite your house of Lords, is a small triangular green commonly utilized for television meetings with political leaders.

Commons Chamber

The Chamber of your house of Commons goes to the north end of the Palace of Westminster; it was opened in 1950 after the Victorian chamber had actually been ruined in 1941 and re-built under the architect Giles Gilbert Scott. The Chamber measures 14 by 20.7 metres (46 by 67.9 ft) and is far more austere than the Lords Chamber; the benches, along with other furnishings in the Commons side of the Palace, are colored green. Members of the public are prohibited to sit on the red benches, which are reserved for members of your home of Lords. Other parliaments in Commonwealth countries, including those of India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, have actually copied the color scheme under which the Lower House is associated with green, and the Upper House with red.

Like its predecessor, the post-war chamber of your home of Commons can seat on its green benches just about two-thirds of all Members of Parliament.

At the north end of the Chamber is the Speaker's Chair, a present to Parliament from the Commonwealth of Australia. The existing British Speaker's Chair is a specific copy of the Speaker's Chair given to Australia, by the House of Commons, on the party of Australia's Parliamentary opening. In front of the Speaker's Chair is the Table of your house, at which the clerks sit, and on which is put the Commons' ceremonial mace. The Table was a present from the Dominion of Canada. The dispatch boxes, which front-bench Members of Parliament (MPs) often lean on or rest notes on during Questions and speeches, are a present from New Zealand. There are green benches on either side of the House; participants of the Government party occupy benches on the Speaker's right, while those of the Opposition occupy benches on the Speaker's left. There are no cross-benches as in your home of Lords. The Chamber is fairly small, and can accommodate just 427 of the 650 Members of Parliament-- throughout Prime Minister's Questions and in major arguments MPs stand at either end of the House.

By custom, the British Sovereign does not get in the Chamber of your home of Commons. The last monarch to do so was King Charles I, in 1642. The King sought to jail 5 Members of Parliament on charges of high treason, but when he asked the Speaker, William Lenthall, if he had any understanding of the location of these people, Lenthall notoriously responded: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to talk in this location however as your house is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here." When repairs after the World War II battle were finished, the rebuilt chamber levelled by King George VI on 26 October 1950 who was invited to an "informal" trip of the new structure by Commons leaders.

The two red lines on the floor of your home of Commons are 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) apart, which, by apocryphal custom, is meant to be just over two sword-lengths. It is said that the original function of this was to prevent disagreements in your house from devolving into duels. However, there is no record of a time when Members of Parliament were enabled to bring swords into the Chamber; historically, just the Serjeant at Arms has actually been enabled to hold a sword, as a sign of their role in Parliament, and there are loops of pink ribbon in the Members' cloakroom for MPs to hang up their swords prior to getting in the Chamber. In the days that gentlemen carried swords, there were not any lines in the Chamber. Process dictates that MPs might not cross these lines when speaking; a Member of Parliament who breaks this convention will be lambasted by opposition Members. This is-- improperly, provided the relatively current addition of free throw lines-- considereded a possible beginning for the expression "to toe the line".

Culture and tourism.
Visits to the Houses of Parliament can be made by application to your MP. Some great Prime Ministers including Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher took their share of accompanying their visitors around Parliament. This can make a great day out in London.

Throughout 3 trips to London in between 1899 and 1901, Impressionist artist and painter Claude Monet dealt with a series of canvasses that portrayed the Palace of Westminster under different lighting conditions; the structure was often shrouded in the smog prevalent in the city in Victorian times. The paintings share the exact same viewpoint-- a terrace at St Thomas's Hospital, across the river from the Palace-- and numerous of the works were finished in Monet's studio in France over the following years.The exterior of the Palace of Westminster-- especially the Big Ben-- is acknowledged worldwide, and is one of the most checked out vacationer attractions in London. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) categorizes the Palace of Westminster, in addition to neighbouring Westminster Abbey and St Margaret's, as a World Heritage Site. It is likewise a Grade I noted building.

Although there is no laid-back access to the interior of the Palace, there are a number of means to gain admittance. UK residents might get tickets from an MP for a place in the viewing gallery of the House of Commons, or from a Lord for a seat in the gallery of your house of Lords. It is also possible for both UK locals and overseas visitors to queue for admission on the day, however capability is restricted and there is no assurance of admission. Either House could exclude "complete strangers" if it needs to sit in private. Members of the public can also queue for a seat in a committee session, where admission is free of cost and locations can not be booked, or they could see the Parliamentary Archives for research functions. Proof of identification is essential in the latter case, but there is no requirement to get in touch with a Parliamentarian beforehand.

Free directed tours of the Palace are held throughout the parliamentary session for UK citizens, who can apply with their MP or a participant of your house of Lords. The trips last about 75 mins and include the state rooms, the chambers of the two Houses and Westminster Hall. Paid-for tours (led by London Blue Badge Tourist Guidesare offered to both UK and overseas site visitors throughout the summertime recess. UK residents may likewise tour the Elizabeth Tower, by using through their neighborhood Member of Parliament; overseas site visitors and children are not allowed.