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Palace of Westminster London parliament

The Westminster Palace is a hub for United Kingdom of political life for over a thousand years. Marvel at the millennia-old architectures and visit iconic chambers and halls of British parliament within with a special summer tour and walkthrough.

Palace of Westminster London parliament viewed from the London Eye
Palace of Westminster London parliament viewed from the London Eye.
Westminster in the distance under the sunlight across the river Thames
Westminster in the distance under the sunlight across the river Thames.

The nearest tube station to get there is of course, “Westminster”. The name is synonymous with the UK Parliament and British Government. It goes by Westminster government system which commemorates the name of the palace.

Out on the streets by Great George street with Elizabeth Tower in view
Out on the streets by Great George street with Elizabeth Tower in view.

The Palace sits on the north bank of the River Thames, opposite the London Eye. Also, the exterior of the Westminster compound by from Birdcage walk street to Great George street side before Westminster bridge sits the Elizabeth Tower. Named after Queen Elizabeth, more often, the tower is mistaken by the name “Big Ben”, which is actually the name of the largest main bell in the tower.

Queen Elizabeth tower with the Big Ben bell within. In operation, it gongs every hour
Queen Elizabeth tower with the Big Ben bell within. In operation, it gongs every hour.

Furthermore, since 1987, the Palace of Westminster is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a British Grade I listed conserved building since the 1970. Also, the Palace of Westminster was built and completed on 1016, making the establishment over a thousand years old. However, the current building is not the original one. It was rebuilt on 1870 due to a massive fire which destroyed most of the original.

Parliament Chambers within

Additionally, on the inside the Palace of Westminster though named a palace is more of a place of business. There are less of state rooms and bedrooms rooms here. Rather, it is more of active office spaces and chambers for debate. After all, it is a meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords which I would touch on later.

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Guided tours
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Hall
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Floor markers

Furthermore, the establishment does public tours on selected days especially during the summer months. Bookings and availability of tour slots are available via booking in their official website subjected on a first come basis. The entire tour is guided with a local guide. This is as the location is both an active place of parliament and legislation. Hence, you are strictly advised to stick to your guide at all times within the chambers.

The Cromwell Green entrance with the bronze statue of Oliver Cromwell in view
The Cromwell Green entrance with the bronze statue of Oliver Cromwell in view.

My journey in starts via the Cromwell Green, outside Westminster Hall. Here you can find Hamo Thornycroft’s controversial bronze statue of Oliver Cromwell, (1899), given his involvement in the English Civil War. It sits centered over a manicured lawn. Moreover, you enter from Cromwell green through the St Stephen’s porch side entrance. Here, you go down the Saint Stephen’s hall into the Central Hall.

Cromwell green lawns by the St Stephen's porch side entrance
Cromwell green lawns by the St Stephen’s porch side entrance.

Vast Westminster Hall

Moreover, built in 1097, the Westminster Hall the oldest existing part of the Palace of Westminster. The Westminster Hall is place for massive occasions, such as banquets, lying in state and notable events. In addition, the hall’s roof is one of great demonstrations of early free-standing arched structures. Your guide will run you through some history of the building as well as how they are used in British parliament today.

Palace of Westminster exterior 180 degree panorama

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The hall is quite a marvel of early cantilevered architecture. Also, as said by King William the II as “the greatest creation of medieval timber architecture, the hall measures 21 meters wide and almost 73 meters in length.

The vast Westminster hall, it is used to host various events and banquets
The vast Westminster hall, it is used to host various events and banquets.

Supporting side pillars removes the need for center supporting columns. Also, the wooden roof panels here comes from Oak timbers sourced from royal woods in Hampshire and parks in Hertfordshire.

The intricate roof timber structure span of the Westminster hall
The intricate roof timber structure span of the Westminster hall.

Lords Chamber and Commons Chambers

Additionally, walking from there, the central hall is leads you to both the Peer’s Corridor, the Common’s Lobby leading to the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Also, this central hall is about 20m wide is originally named “Octagon Hall” because of its shape. This Central Lobby is the heart of the Palace of Westminster connecting the Commons and Lord’s Chambers. Also, these houses are informally known as the Houses of Parliament. It is named after its occupants.

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Fronted glass
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Cambers roof
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Stairs to chambers
Statues in the Palace of Westminster, Westminster hall
Statues in the Palace of Westminster, Westminster hall.

The north end of the Parliament is the Commons Chamber. It spots green benches on either side of the House. Sitting at the Chamber’s north end is the Speaker’s Chair. Also, by tradition, the British Sovereign does not enter the Chamber of the House of Commons. It is meant to be a place of refuge for Commoners.

180 degree interior panorama of Westminster hall

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In comparison, the Chamber of the House of Lords (Lords Chamber) is the second of the two houses of the United Kingdom Parliament. It is located in the southern part of the Palace of Westminster grounds. Also, this lavishly decorated room measures 14 by 25 metres. Also, you can view both the halls in person. It does looks tad alot smaller in person than it looks like as telecast on television. Members of the House occupy red benches on three sides of the Chamber, in contrast to the green in the common.

The buildings from the New Palace Yard and Interior entrance to Westminster hall
The buildings from the New Palace Yard and Interior entrance to Westminster hall.

However, no photographs are allowed in either of the lord and common chambers with the vast Westminster hall being the only location where photography is allowed.

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Stone statues
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Pub food
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Cartoons

Other Westminster sights

Wrapping up, the Palace of Westminster tour is not long. Freeing time for you to explore other areas of interests here, such as walk along the River Thames, where the Tower of London reside, or go for a ride on the London Eye. There is also the Jubilee Shop, the Houses of Parliament Gift Shop which you can get some gifts on your way out.

Also, if you around the area, do check out several notable commercial establishments, such the St Stephen’s Tavern pub. It is known to be a favourite pubs which served politician and has a collection of hilarious comics and satiate art along the pub walls.

St Stephen's Tavern pub, one of the old pub which has a rich history serving politicians who work across the road
St Stephen’s Tavern pub, one of the old pub which has a rich history serving politicians who work across the road.

All in all, you are good here for about 2 hours, based on the duration of the guided tour here in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.

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