Tuesday, 31 January 2017

St Stephen's Chamber

I'm looking directly at the windows and exterior wall of St Stephen's Chapel as I write this. In some senses it has become a "forgotten" treasure. Today - as some people queue to get a seat in the Visitors' Gallery in the House of Commons - they will wait in what seems like a large waiting room. Others will hurry through as they make their way to meeting their MP in Central Lobby or to visit one of the committees. Yet this was the space occupied by the House of Commons for the longest period of its history. It was here that King Charles I was rebuffed when he (and an accompanying armed band of soldiers) marched on the House to demand that the Speaker tell him where five of his least favourite MPs were. (4th January 1642) At the other end of the chamber, Spencer Perceval became the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated. (11th May 1812) This was where Amern independence was debated - where the struggles to abolish the slave trade and widen the franchise were fought.

If you visit the Palace of Westminster, you may only take photographs here and in Westminster Hall. Currently there is an interactive guide to the history (with pictures of what the chamber looked like at different periods of its history). It's well worth going to use it.

You can also see where the Speaker's Chair stood; where the Table of the House was; Where the Chamber ended and the 'Lobby' began. There are also some fine painting showing scenes from British (and world) history

- and for anyone who participates in pub quizzes: the answer to the question of who the "five members" were is

- John Hampden
- Arthur Haselrig
- Denzil Holles
- John Pym
- William Strode

No comments: