Today’s blog ahead of our Parliaments, Politics and People seminar at the Institute of Historical Research this evening, is from Dr Matthew Johnson. Matthew is Associate Professor (Modern British History) at the University of Durham. He gave his paper at our last PPP seminar on ‘Ex-servicemen and the Liberal Party: the Great War generation and the electoral and parliamentary politics of the 1920s’… The political … Continue reading Parliaments, Politics and People seminar – Ex-servicemen and the Liberal Party: the Great War generation and the electoral and parliamentary politics of the 1920s
On Tuesday of this week – 30th January – we observed the anniversary of the regicide, the execution of Charles I. This is not the only reason Charles I has been in the spotlight recently, Dr Vivienne Larminie, Assistant Editor of the Commons 1640-60 Section, discusses the sale of the King’s art collection in light of the current exhibition Charles I: King and Collector… To … Continue reading Art, power and money: the sale of Charles I’s art collection
At the ‘Parliaments, Politics and People’ Seminar on 7 November 2017 Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt (University of Kent) spoke on ‘The challenges of designing the House of Lords’ nineteenth-century ventilation system – A study of a political design process, 1840-47.’ Here he gives us an overview of his paper…
The earliest set of architectural drawings for the House of Lords were produced in Charles Barry’s office between 1836 and 1839. Starting in 1840, however, the plans had to be significantly modified to accommodate a new scheme for ventilation and climate control proposed by the physician David Boswell Reid. As the requirements of this system had not been anticipated in the earlier stages Barry’s team had to adapt their existing architectural plans. This was a complex, often challenging, process that led to serious delays. The delays were not the result of the immediate technical difficulties alone. The challenges of designing a ventilation system were further accentuated by the difficulties with successfully integrating the specialist skills and knowledge of a doctor within a process involving a large team of engineers, architects and draughtsman. Numerous studies have attributed the delays to insufficient cooperation between Barry and Reid and have dismissed the ventilation scheme as a failed endeavour. In his talk Dr. Schoenefeldt challenged this claim by retracing the evolution of their working relationship and its impact on the final design for the House of Lords, completed in 1847.
Combining the study of archival material, (e.g. original letters, drawings, sketches and diaries) with detailed building surveys inside the House of Lords, his research has allowed him to reconstruct the House of Lords’s original ventilation system and to uncover the extent of Barry and Reid’s respective contributions to its development. The original letters reveal that the pressure to reduce the risk of further delays, drove Barry and the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to trial new, more collaborative modes of working. These trials were based on the belief that Reid’s relative inexperience with engineering and architectural design could be compensated through a closer partnership between him and Barry’s team. Members of the House of Lords were also directly involved in the process of resolving the problems. The impact of Reid’s involvement on the design process became the subject of extensive reviews, conducted by several Select Committees and independent expert panels appointed by the Lords between 1843 and 1846. Neither the nature of the practical design challenges of incorporating the system within the architectural plans nor the role of Barry’s team in assisting in its development, have been investigated by historians in any depth before. This, however, is critical to fully understand the inherently political nature of the design process.
The talk is based on research conducted in conjunction with his current project within the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme, which is entitled ‘Between Heritage and Sustainability – Restoring the Palace of Westminster’s nineteenth-.century ventilation system‘ and is funded through a grant from the AHRC. Henrik’s recent publications include ‘ The Lost (First) Chamber of the House of Commons’, AA files, 72 (June 2016), pp. 161-173.
Continue reading “Parliaments, Politics and People: Henrik Schoenefeldt, The challenges of designing the House of Lords’ nineteenth-century ventilation system – A study of a political design process, 1840-47.”
Here we share posts about our current research projects, wider parliamentary history, highlights from our events, seminars and conferences, and future publications. The History of Parliament’s core work lies in researching and writing series of volumes depicting Parliamentary life and proceedings throughout the past 700 years. These academically rigorous works contain detailed biographies of parliamentarians, studies of constituencies and introductory surveys. The Sections currently underway … Continue reading Welcome to the History of Parliament blog!
Last Tuesday the History of Parliament hosted our annual lecture in Westminster – also our new Director, Dr Stephen Roberts’ first event. The event focused on the Second Reform Act of 1867 in the wake of its 150th anniversary in 2017. This year we approached proceedings differently to the traditional lectures of previous years, in that our chair of trustees, Gordon Marsden MP invited … Continue reading ‘The Second Reform Act of 1867: party interest or the road to democracy?’: A debate between Rt. Hon. The Lord Adonis and Kwasi Kwarteng MP
2018 is the centennial anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 under the terms of which, for the first time in the history of the British Politics, some women were permitted to vote in Parliamentary elections. In order to mark this step in the progression of equality for women in our country’s political system we will be publishing a series of blogs about … Continue reading Women and Parliament in the Fifteenth Century
Current rumours suggest that the government may be on the point of boosting the numbers of Conservative peers in the House of Lords. In the winter of 1711/12 the administration of the earl of Oxford also turned to bolstering its membership of the upper chamber by offering peerages to a number of prominent politicians to ensure it was able to get its business through Parliament. … Continue reading ‘By God my Lord, if you can bear this you are the strongest man in England’: the appointment of ‘Harley’s Dozen’ new peers in the winter of 1711/12
Today’s blog is the first from Stephen Roberts in his new position as Director of the History of Parliament… It is a privilege to be taking over as Director of the History of Parliament, which has for many decades now been one of the UK’s leading historical research organisations, and which is currently engaged in a range of projects, some of long standing and others … Continue reading Introducing…our new Director
It’s been another hectic, but excellent year here at the History of Parliament. We have been making many organisational changes after our Director, Dr Paul Seaward, won a prestigious Wolfson/British Academy scholarship. Paul will leave us for three years to undertake his new research project: ‘Reformation to Referendum: A new history of Parliament’. Paul has blogged about it here. Whilst Paul is away researching, Dr … Continue reading Review of the year 2017
Since 2011, in partnership with the British Library, we have been interviewing as many former MPs as we can about their lives and careers in parliament. 155 of our completed interviews have now been deposited at the British Library. Our growing archive contains a wide variety of experiences and views of parliament: from ‘big names’ (Denis Healey, Michael Heseltine, David Owen, David Steel, Jonathan Aitken, … Continue reading Now available online: full interviews with former MPs from our oral history project