A guided tour of the Houses of Parliament will leave you in awe. Its other name is the Palace of Westminster. I asked myself why I have visited palaces in other countries without realising how splendid our own would be.
The tour lasts 75 minutes and your Guide is Blue Badge. You will hear about the history, the architecture, the art works, and the procedures our MPs and the Lords follow. You will have seen it on the TV but now you will walk down those corridors, follow the route of Black Rod, stand in Central Lobby, be in the Queen’s Robing Room, take in the splendour of the House of Lords and then move to the relative austerity of the House of Commons. You will pass through one of the division lobbies and feel the gravitas of an MP’s vote.
You start and finish in Westminster Hall. You will be amazed by the magnificent hammer-beam roof. It was commissioned in 1393 by Richard II and is a masterpiece of design. The Hall has witnessed many high-profile legal trials – Charles I was sentenced to death here in 1649. And some of today’s world leaders have addressed both Houses of Parliament from the steps where you will be standing.
There is a small retail area here plus a wide selection of complimentary leaflets so you can read more on Parliament and its procedures.
The tour is an efficient operation. Your tickets give you the convenience of a timed entry. Allow enough time to pick them up from the Ticket Office across the road by Jewel Tower. And then at least 20 minutes to go through airport style security. Yes, belts off. There is a very good cafe after Security.
I left feeling I would like to do it all over again as there is so much to see – the ceilings, the floor tiles, the sculptures, the wood carving,, the portraits demonstrating our history. First I am going to sit in a Public Gallery and experience a debate. I cannot believe I have never done that.