Saturday, January 28, 2017

Westminster and the Houses of Parliament

We got an early start today with a scheduled tour of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.  Our guide, Rosie, met us at the Westminster book shop where we began our tour of the Abbey.  No photographs are allowed inside.  Therefore, you all must go and see for yourselves.  The nave is the highest in England and in the style of English perpendicular Gothic architecture. It's vaulted ceiling is breathtaking with white stone and golden bosses. There were only 10 of us (with the usual couple who were late for every meet-up), and it was a slow, winter's day.  Thus, we had good views of everything with very little crowd shuffling.  Rosie noted for us, the coronation chair, the tombs of Elizabeth I and sister Mary, Edward the Confessor who built a Norman style church here, and the poet's corner where one can find the tombs of Chaucer, Thomas, Browning, and Dickens among many others.  

Westminster Hall entrance to St Stephen's Hall

Entering the Houses of Parliament through very tight security, one first passes through Westminster Hall, the oldest building on the Parliamentary estate.  The most impressive part of the structure other than its size, is the hammer beam roof installed by Richard II which is the largest clear span medieval roof in England.  Functionally, the Hall played and still plays a central role in British history.  The trails of Thomas More, Guy Fawkes and Charles I were held here, royalty lie in state here. Today statesmen of note speak here, notably President Obama, Aung San Suu, Nelson Mandela.  The houses of Common and Lords are two wings that emit from a central octagonal lobby where members of both houses can meet. It was interesting to be in the House of Commons where we occasionally see the members all making points with the PM.  The members far out number the seats available.  

We wanted to return to the Borough Market and shop for dinner. On the way we were pelted with hail.  There we found what we wanted in cheese, bread, sausages and chocolates.  Pictures at flickr.  

Dinner a la Borough Market