For our birthdays we like to do something different and enjoy a day out with each other. For Rich’s birthday we tend to go to a zoo and for Calum’s we usually go visit a historic Palace or Building. This year, Rich chose to surprise Calum with a tour of the Houses of Parliament. To visit the Parliament, you need to book tickets in advance from the House of Parliament website. If you are a British citizen your MP can organise a tour of Parliament with a specialist guide for free.
The Houses of Parliament tour covers the House of Commons and the House of Lords. It is a Palace in its own right and more formally known as the Palace of Westminster. The tour starts at the Cromwell entrance and takes you straight into Westminster Hall. Many historic events have happened in Parliament and most happened here. This is the site of the impeachment of King Charles I in 1649 and where Churchill lay in state in 1965. The Palace is a working building and it is amazing to see how it has evolved over time from its start in St Stephens Hall.
Throughout the Palace there are amazing pieces of artwork and statues. If you can, try to understand the quirky method of voting used when the Division Halls fill after the Speaker shouts ‘clear the house’. Some parts of the tour are recognisable from televised events, such as the State Opening of Parliament. One thing that television does not do justice to is the colour of both Houses. The furniture has a distinctive theme, red for the House of Lords and Green in the House of Commons. The colour is far more rich and iconic that the TV can show.
In all, the tour is a great experience that covers some important parts of British History. History that is still important today as it was then, such as the main doors to the Commons damaged as a result of bombs in WWII. Left damaged at the suggestion of Winston Churchill as a reminder to the future generations to the destructive power of war. To the more quirky history of Black Rod and the divot in the door that dates back to the last time a Monarch entered the Commons. It is a stunning building to visit and if you ever get the chance to visit, it is worth the time spent in the building.