Palace of Westminster Visit, 9th April 2018
On a drizzly and misty Monday morning, 23 fortunate Museum members set off to visit the Palace of Westminster, better known as the Houses of Parliament. The visit was sponsored by our local Conservative Member of Parliament, Alan Mak.
We arrived in good time thanks to Paul, our driver, and once through airport-style security we had time to spare to visit the cafe and the well-stocked shop before our arranged tour at 12.30pm. The cavernous and ancient Westminster Hall is where we started our tour. Although we were small in number for such a tour we were split up and joined other visitors to make up two groups. Both tour guides proved to be very well versed in Parliamentary dates and momentous occasions and they skilfully weaved us through the labyrinth of corridors and halls between the Commons and Lords, taking us into both chambers. We were able to admire the Queen's Robing Room and as we passed along we noted the dent on the door made by successive Black Rods and all the paintings and tapestries commemorating notable British victories.
The tour lasted a generous one and a half hours and we ended by warmly thanking both guides. Again a cup of tea and biscuit beckoned. Then it was time to brave the elements and cross to the Jewel Tour, a misnomer perhaps as of course the Crown Jewels are still in the Tower of London. What we did see in this well-preserved English Heritage tower was a display of weights and measures and how they originated and were checked, and a storage facility for Parliamentary records, formerly surrounded by a moat for extra protection.
Then it was time to return home and again our driver picked us up promptly in the midst of what is clearly a coach-driver's worst nightmare - London in the rush hour.
The photograph taken by Audrey Mant is of the latest permanent addition to the Houses of Parliament. The art installation is over the entrance leading from Westminster Hall into the Houses of Parliament and is called New Dawn. It is by Mary Branson.