Friday, September 23, 2016

Visiting the British Parliament Was Fabulous

Today we took a guided tour of the British Parliament. You can do this when members are not sitting, or on Saturday's at other times. Because I am really interested in politics, I booked this one from home to make sure we got in. The tour was brilliant and completely fascinated me.

The palace of Westminster as the parliament is officially known, was for a time, from the 1100s, the official Royal residence of the monarchy in London.  Once they moved to better digs, the building was given over to a developing parliament. They first met in the old chapel of St Stephens in the palace and that's why the House of Lords and Commons today look like church pews facing each other.....

The building we see today was largely built by Queen Victoria, as the old one burnt down in 1834. There is no way you'd ever get a building up that ornate and elegant these days. It is simply stunning inside and out. Particularly the Queen's robing room and her chair in the house of Lords. She attends once a year to open parliament and gets changed into all her bits there, including the crown, which is brought over from the Tower of London.

The medieval hall and a small tower on the site today are all the survived the fire of 1834. The medieval hall is the only bit where you can take photos. I guess they don't want the terrorists accessing the layout of the place on the internet. In the medieval hall, William Wallace of Brave Heart fame, Guy Fawkes and King Charles 1 were sentenced to death ( you can stand on the actual flag stone they were on during their trials). Also this is the room where Churchill and the Queen Mother lay in state after they died. Mandela and Obama,  had to speak here too other than the usual spot where heads of state speak because it's a big room and lots wanted to hear them. Charles de Gaulle also spoke here because he refused to speak in front of paintings depicting Napoleon losing at the battle of Waterloo.

The house of commons ( the green house) was completely destroyed during the blitz and the vestibule too, but Churchill insisted that some of the old stones be used to rebuild it so people would never forget it. I just loved every bit of the tour.

After lunch we looked at the Florence Nightingale museum. She is considered the mother of modern nursing and was really the first to give any medical support to fighting troops. It's an interesting story but the museum needs an overhaul.

It's right near the London eye, which we didn't bother with as its so very crowded. Defo get there early for that one.
We decided to walk home up the Strand and pop into the Savoy for afternoon tea. Glad we did just to check out the foyer and her flowers. Sadly this is booked out months in advance so next time for sure. Will book from home next time.

We tried to have dinner at Dishroom an Indian restaurant in Covent Garden, but there is always an hour long queue outside. It must be good as its the only queue I've seen in London. We are going to try breakfast or lunch.

We settled on a Spanish tapas bar called Barrafino it's on Drury Lane Covent Garden and has now become the best meal we have had in London. Absolutely brilliant food. Yum.


  1. Your tour brings back so many memories for me. I didn't get to do the tour of Parliament but I loved the series that was on the ABC last year I think. Glad you are having a wonderful time.

  2. Looks like a great tour! I would like to do this when I go back to the UK :)


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