After the historic Westminster Abbey, I headed for the Houses of Parliament which was just across the street.
I had to purchase the ticket at a counter located just behind the Abbey. Thereafter, I crossed the road and walked towards the Sovereigns Entrance at the Victoria Tower for the guided tour. It was a good thing there was a guided tour, I have generally find most guided tours that I have attended to be informative and enriching.
For those keen on the history of the Houses of Parliament, here's some background (Taken from: http://www.aboutbritain.com/HousesParliament.htm)
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.
In 1834 a fire broke out which destroyed much of the old palace. The magnificent Gothic Revival masterpiece which we see today was built between 1840 and 1888.
(Please refer to: http://www.aboutbritain.com/HousesParliament.htm for more.)
The tour started at 12.30 p.m. I remembered the exact time because I kept the ticket stub. As no photography was allowed in the Houses of Parliament, except in the Westminster Hall, that leaves me with limited photos to show you. If you would like you may have to use your imagination.
Houses of Parliament
After much search, I found a site that could give one a virtual tour of the Houses of Parliament. Visit http://www.explore.parliament.uk/Parliament.aspx?id=21 and join in as I write about my tour about the Houses of Parliament.
When I entered through the Sovereigns Entrance, I was told that this entrance is the one that the king or the queen would enter the Houses of Parliament. I also got to see the seat that the king or queen would sit on while waiting to enter the House of Lords. If I remember correctly, this seat was placed in a room which should be the Royal Robing Room. This is where the Queen puts on her ceremonial robes and crown before the State Opening of Parliament. Since the existing Houses of Parliament was built in the era of Queen Victoria, one could notice that the height of the seat was set to a height comfortable for her.
Thereafter, one would walk through a passageway that leads to the House of Lords. This walkway is known as the Royal Gallery. One could see portraits of past kings and huge frescos of famous battles on its walls.
Next is the Prince Chamber. Here one gets to see the portraits and reliefs of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs. If you could imagine, I was starting to feel fascinated with the history of the British monarch as the tour went on. Here's the official website of the British monarch: http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page1.asp
Then one would enter the House of Lords. The House of Lords has elaborated furnishing. I remember the guide telling us that this is where the State Opening of Parliament by Her Majesty the Queen would take place. During this ceremony, the Queen's Speech which is written by the Government would set out the Parliament's working agenda for the coming year.
When one leaves the House of Lords, one would pass the Peers' Lobby, the Central Lobby and the Members' Lobby.
Then one finds himself at the House of Commons. The seats in the House of Commons are green in colour. By the way, I was told that if all doors that lead from House of Lords to the House of Commons were open, the king/ queen who sits on the throne at the House of Lords would be able to have direct (but very distant) eye contact with the speaker who is seated at the Speaker's Chair at the House of Commons. How interesting. Part of the House of Commons was under some works on that day when I was visiting the Houses of Parliament, so I had to use my imagination to work out how the entire House of Commons should look like.
Thereafter, the tour guide led us to the St Stephen's Hall. Then one would enter the Westminster Hall, which is the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster. The roof looked impressive.
For those of you who wishes to find out more about the UK Parliament, please visit its official home page: http://www.parliament.uk/
I started feeling hungry by the time I was at the Westminster Hall, so I left the Houses of Parliament. My next stop, Oxford Street. I intended to have my lunch there.