Thursday, 7 February 2008
The Lord Speaker (or a Deputy when she is not personally present) normally sits on the woolsack - a fine red, and very solid, piece of furniture. There has been a woolsack since the time of King Edward III - and it represents the traditional source of wealth upon which England once relied. In the 1920s it was discovered that over time the wool had been partially replaced by cheaper materials when refurbishment was necessary. It is now filled with wool from a number of commonwealth countries - as a symbol of unity.
There is no back or armrests, although there is an upright backrest. Once woolsacks were common in courts. As well as the main woolsack there are two judges woolsacks which are sited betwnne the main woolsack and the clerks desk. Until the post of Lord Speaker was created, the woolsack was the seat of the Lord Chancellor - who acted as presiding officer of the House of Lords and was the Senior judge.