PALACE OF WESTMINSTER

“Why haven’t we been to the Houses of Parliament?” enquired the Junior CW’s.  Fair enough question and one to which I didn’t have a good answer.  A few clicks later we had tickets for the whole family on the first Friday of the Easter holidays.  Palace of Westminster, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Parliament; the seat of British government goes by many different names, we were lucky enough to have a perfectly sunny day for our visit.

Palace of Westminster

Security checks are thorough, as you would expect, and once past them cameras are strictly forbidden but you do get an excellent audio guide.   The first space that you enter is vast, Westminster Hall is a jaw droppingly large place now, goodness only knows how awe-inspiring it must have been seen through medieval eyes.  The wood timber roof is the largest hammer-beam roof in the world.  In this room Charles I was tried, Nelson Mandela addressed both Houses of Parliament and monarchs have laid in state here.  Brass plaques dot the floor indicating where momentous events took place.

Palace of Westminster
Westminster Hall © UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
Westminster Hall was the only part of the medieval palace of Westminster to survive a fire in 1834.  The rest of the  familiar building is a Victorian creation.  What you don’t see on television is just how much gold there is everywhere.  No surface seems to go undecorated with at least some glitter.  The windows are filled with stained glass, colour is everywhere.  The tour takes you into the House of Lords, it is so much smaller that you would expect and Queen’s throne so much more golden.  You get a sense that it is a chamber in which discussion is possible rather than the exchange of ranting speeches.

Palace of Westminster
House of Lords © UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
After the Lords you follow the route that Black Rod takes when he goes to summon the Commons to hear the Queen’s speech.  Nobody slams the doors of the House of Commons in your face, you get walk straight in.  Once again it is so much smaller than it appears to be on television, you can see that heated debate is likely as opponents on the front benches are so close that they could almost touch.

Palace of Westminster
House of Commons © UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
We all  enjoyed our visit, the building is beautiful and being where big decisions are made is spine tingling.   “We’ve been there!” is now a constant refrain when the news is on.  Next the Junior CW’s want to see a debate, for that we must wait for an inset day that coincides with a day when the Houses of Parliament are sitting.

PALACE OF WESTMINSTER
Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
Tours are available on Saturdays and weekdays during parliamentary recesses.
Booking in advance is recommended, that way you won’t turn up on a day when you can’t do a tour or it is fully booked, click here for details.  It is also possible to book a tour with afternoon tea that is taken in a Thameside room and sounds amazing but we didn’t have time for tea.
Admission: Adults £18.50, concessions £16, Children (5-15) one free per adult or £7.50

22 thoughts on “PALACE OF WESTMINSTER

  1. Allison April 21, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    I’d love to visit the Houses of Parliament. They are on my London bucket list when we’re finally able to visit. #weekendwanderlust

    • Catherine April 22, 2017 / 8:36 am

      One of those places that is so much more beautiful in the flesh

  2. Wandermust mummy April 25, 2017 / 8:30 am

    I would love to visit – we unfortunately never got round to tbwhen we lived in London #citytripping

  3. Tanja April 25, 2017 / 8:51 am

    I’d love to do a tour sometimes:) #citytripping

  4. tots2travel April 25, 2017 / 4:42 pm

    I think it’s symbolic that the people of this country have the right to access the House of Lords and Commons. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting, though it was several years ago now. #citytripping

  5. California Globetrotter April 25, 2017 / 6:50 pm

    When I was a teen we went inside Westminister Abbey, but I dont think we did Parliament. I wish we had! We wanted to back in 2015 but its sooo expensive to do the tour, so we passed. #CityTripping

  6. Upeksha April 25, 2017 / 8:41 pm

    I visited there last December. It’s a great tour. #citytripping

  7. Hilary April 26, 2017 / 5:54 am

    We took this tour during our last London visit and loved it! Such a beautiful building it was awe inspiring. The only thing I might have done differently is we would have liked to have tea there as I hear its pretty good! #citytripping

    • Catherine April 26, 2017 / 3:23 pm

      I agree, we had the last slot of the day so Mr CW could bunk off work to join us.

  8. Kat April 26, 2017 / 6:54 am

    My parents have visited the House of Parliament before, I would love to do the same. I will be in London for a 9-hour layover in mid-Sept, am figuring what are the things I can do in London for a couple of hours. So many places to see but so little time, it’s tough to decide! Perhaps a visit to the Palace of Westminster and the Parliament 🙂 #citytripping

  9. Wherejogoes April 26, 2017 / 7:09 pm

    I’ve never visited and really must go. Thank you for raising this up my London list! What age children would you say it’s best for, mine are 9, should I wait till they are a bit older? #CityTripping

  10. Sarah Christie April 26, 2017 / 8:21 pm

    I love wandering around outside but have never bene in, it looks so incredible x

    • Catherine April 26, 2017 / 8:35 pm

      It is so much more beautiful inside than out

  11. Bumble Bee Mum April 27, 2017 / 2:43 am

    The interior looks as amazing as the exterior! You should go back again when there is a debate going on. Back when I was a teacher, I once brought my students on an excursion to our Parliament House to observe a Parliament Sitting. A rather unorthodox excursion but I’m glad I did it. #CityTripping

    • Catherine April 27, 2017 / 7:22 am

      That is a brilliant school outing, every school should do it!

  12. museummum April 28, 2017 / 8:37 am

    I visited once as part of a gothic art study day with Tate Britain, it felt such a privilege to go inside. I’d love to go back with the teen – and treat ourselves to an afternoon tea! I’m also interested in climbing the clock tower. We’ll have to wait until the next parliament I suppose. #CityTripping

    • Catherine April 28, 2017 / 8:39 am

      The tours are when Parliament is in recess, so there a bonus extra few weeks because of the election!

  13. Sol Solntze April 28, 2017 / 9:44 pm

    I went as a teen with a school trip and then we did get to see a debate. Don’t think we had a tour too though, which was clearly a istake. I wonder why I’ve never thought of going again – very interesting for sure!

    • Catherine April 28, 2017 / 10:06 pm

      I really want to,see a debate, so a bit jealous of your school trip

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