Houses of Parliament Trip

Mr Smart, Head of History, reflects on the trip: ‘The History department took Year 7 boys to Westminster Palace to tour the Houses of Parliament.  On arrival, we were treated to a very interesting and colourful film about the history of Parliament and how it progressed from a group of Barons discussing taxes with the Monarch to the elected Houses and law-making body it is today.  Then we were divided in to groups and started the tour.

This was my sixth tour of Parliament, but I never grow tired of it and always learn something new. This time I learnt about the not so secret location of the royal loo in the Queen’s Changing rooms!  On a more serious note, I heard the legend that President Charles De Gaulle had refused to use certain rooms because they show huge panoramic portraits of the Battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar. Our guide informed us this was partly correct, that he had used the rooms for his Reception, but the pictures had been covered by curtains and this practice continued apparently with visiting French Heads of State until the 1970s.

The Year 7 groups were taken briskly through the House of Lords with its red theme, then through the central lobby where we saw a TV crew preparing to broadcast. Then it was on to the House of Commons with its war damaged entrance doors flanked by Sir Winston Churchill, David Lloyd-George, Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher.

Despite my regular visits, I am always struck by how small the Chamber is. We popped in to the “No” lobby, which must have been quite a busy place in recent weeks and where our guide explained brilliantly how laws are passed and how Government works. We then looked closely at the Government benches, the Opposition and the now somewhat famous Speaker’s Chair.

It was a very busy morning; the boys enjoyed themselves enormously and learnt a great deal about democracy, British history and values.’