Michael A. Stecker


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London 1
My visit to London was in May, 1987
also see: London 2


British National Anthem
Rule Britannia

The Kings and Queens of England, #5: Georgians

"The Real King of England"

Other United Kingdom Pages:
England Home Page
Photos of England:
Bath   Blenheim Palace   Cambridge   Canterbury   Castle Howard  Cornwall  
Lake District   London 2   Northern England   Oxford   Plymouth  
Salisbury   Windsor Castle
 Photos of Scotland:
Edinburgh    lochs

British History:
Portraits of British Monarchs 1 and 2
List of British Monarchs (outside link)
History of England (outside link)
Battles in England
(outside link)

Parliament, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace

flag of England

The Houses of Parliament, otherwise known as The Palace of Westminster, stands on the site where Edward the Confessor had the original palace built in the first half of the eleventh century. In 1547 the royal residence was moved to Whitehall Palace, but the Lords continued to meet at Westminster, while the commons met in St. Stephen's Chapel. Ever since these early times, the Palace of Westminster has been home to the English Parliament.
In 1834 a fire broke out which destroyed much of the old palace.
The magnificent Gothic Revival masterpiece you see today was built between 1840 and 1888, this was the work of Charles Barry who designed the buildings to blend with nearby Westminster Abbey. The two imposing towers, well known landmarks in London, are the clock tower, named after it's thirteen ton bell called Big Ben, and Victoria tower, on who's flag pole the Union Jack flies when parliament is sitting. The statue of Oliver Cromwell, which stands outside the hall, reminds us it was here in 1653 that he was sworn in as Lord Protector.

The route to the upper and lower houses takes you through the huge wooden doors into St. Stephen's hall. From here you are ushered into the well known octagonal Central Lobby, whose tiled walls are inscribed with Latin mottos. This is the central meeting place where constituents can meet or "lobby" their Members of Parliament. It is from here that you will be shown your direction either to the House of Lords or Commons.

House of Commons
The seating arrangement in the house is reminiscent of choir stalls, the members of the cabinet sit on the front benches while opposition senior members sit directly opposite. The distance between the benches marked out on the floor in red lines, is exactly two sword lengths and one foot apart. Members are not allowed to cross these lines, thus ensuring that debates are kept orderly. In the centre of the floor stands the Table of the House, on which the mace is placed at the start of each parliamentary sitting; this is the Speaker's sceptre. The speaker of the house presides over sittings, keeping order.

House of Lords
The House of Lords decorated in scarlet and gold has all the grandeur one would expect in this chamber. This is where Her Majesty the Queen comes to open Parliament each November. Placed beneath a regal canopy, the gold throne which dominates the house is where the Queen sits to deliver the traditional opening speech. The Lord Chancellor sits opposite, on the famous Woolsack, this is a large scarlet cushion filled with wool, a tradition dating back to the middle ages when wool was England's largest export.


Thames River and Parliament


Statue of Richard I (Coer de Leon) at Parliment



Big Ben
Big Ben is one of London's best-known landmarks. The four dials of the clock are 23 feet square, the minute hand is 14 feet long and the figures are 2 feet high. Minutely regulated with a stack of coins placed on the huge pendulum, Big Ben is an excellent timekeeper, which has rarely stopped. The name Big Ben actually refers not to the clock-tower itself , but to the thirteen ton bell hung within. The bell was named after the first commissioner of works, Sir Benjamin Hall. During the second world war the House of Commons was destroyed, but the clock tower remained intact and Big Ben continued to keep time.


A London Bobby guards the entrance to Parliament.
Big Ben is seen in the background.



Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the official town residence of the British monarch since 1837. Located near Saint James's Park, it was built by John Sheffield, 1st duke of Buckingham and Normandy, in 1703. The palace was purchased for the royal family in 1761 by George III. Buckingham Palace has about 600 rooms and 50 acres of gardens. It is noted for its fine collection of paintings.


A royal carriage in front of Buckingham Palace



Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace