‘You just become a tiny little speck of history’: First Impressions of the Palace of Westminster

When newly elected MPs first enter the Palace of Westminster, it is hard to ignore the hundreds of years of history that surrounds them. And as Dr Emma Peplow, Head of Oral History at the History of Parliament explores, this legacy could prove inspirational, impressive, or even overwhelming… Find out more about the history of the Palace of Westminster and its famous Elizabeth Tower, home … Continue reading ‘You just become a tiny little speck of history’: First Impressions of the Palace of Westminster

Before Big Ben there was Old Tom

As the restoration of the Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower reaches its final stages this summer, Dr Robin Eagles, editor of our House of Lords 1715-1790 project, takes a look at the clock tower that existed before ‘Big Ben’… The story of the at times fraught development of the clock tower of the palace of Westminster is well known. A late addition to Charles Barry’s … Continue reading Before Big Ben there was Old Tom

Queen Victoria and parliamentary ceremony

During her record-breaking 70 years of service, Queen Elizabeth II has become no stranger to parliamentary traditions like the State Opening of Parliament, and next weekend her milestone as the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee will be celebrated with four days of festivities. But Her Majesty the Queen’s predecessor as a female monarch, Queen Victoria, also witnessed many ceremonies during her own … Continue reading Queen Victoria and parliamentary ceremony

Using the past to help us to understand the future of the Palace of Westminster

Ahead of next Tuesday’s Virtual IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar, we hear from Dr Alexandra Meakin of the University of Leeds. On 9 November 2021, between 5.15 p.m. and 6.30 p.m., she will be responding to your questions about her pre-circulated paper on ‘Using the past to help us understand the future of the Palace of Westminster’. Details of how to join the discussion are available here, … Continue reading Using the past to help us to understand the future of the Palace of Westminster

What did the Elizabethan House of Lords look like?

This might seem like a simple question but, as Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project explains, the answer is anything but straightforward… In 21st-century Britain, we take it for granted that we know what our parliamentary chambers look like. At Westminster, both the House of Commons and House of Lords are open to visitors, and parliamentary debates are recorded on television and illustrated … Continue reading What did the Elizabethan House of Lords look like?

Adapting the chambers of Parliament: from the galleries of the 18th-century Lords to the division lobbies of the 19th-century Commons

Ahead of next Tuesday’s Virtual IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar, we hear from Dr Robin Eagles and Dr Kathryn Rix, of the History of Parliament. On 4 May 2021, between 5.15 p.m. and 6.30 p.m., they will each be giving a 15 minute presentation, followed by a joint Q & A session, looking at adaptations to parliamentary architecture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Details … Continue reading Adapting the chambers of Parliament: from the galleries of the 18th-century Lords to the division lobbies of the 19th-century Commons

First impressions of Westminster in the words of former MPs: back to school, into ‘Dracula’s castle’ or safe at home?

Ahead of Tuesday’s Virtual IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar, we hear from Emma Peplow & Priscila Pivatto, responsible for the History of Parliament Trust’s oral history project which is interviewing former MPs about their lives and experiences. They recently published The Political Lives of Postwar British MPs, an introduction and guide to the project. Emma & Priscila will be responding to your questions about … Continue reading First impressions of Westminster in the words of former MPs: back to school, into ‘Dracula’s castle’ or safe at home?

The ‘Interruption’ of Parliament and the quest for political settlement, October 1659

In the first of a new blog series charting the collapse of the British Republic, Dr Vivienne Larminie of the Commons 1640-1660 section discusses the military coup which temporarily suspended the Rump Parliament 360 years ago… On the morning of Thursday 13 October 1659 ‘at his usual time’, Speaker William Lenthall was making his way by coach from his London residence to preside over a … Continue reading The ‘Interruption’ of Parliament and the quest for political settlement, October 1659

Parliaments, Politics and People seminar – The ‘Gothic slum’: MPs and St Stephen’s Cloisters, 1852-2017

In May 2018, Dr Elizabeth Biggs and Dr Elizabeth Hallam Smith introduced the IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar to the early history of St Stephen’s cloister, Westminster, presenting recent findings from their research project (funded by the Leverhulme Trust, and conducted in association with the Houses of Parliament and the University of York). In June this year, we welcomed Elizabeth Hallam Smith back to … Continue reading Parliaments, Politics and People seminar – The ‘Gothic slum’: MPs and St Stephen’s Cloisters, 1852-2017

The House of Lords Outside Parliament Time, 1604-1629

Continuing our theme of alternative functions once served by the palace of Westminster, Dr Andrew Thrush of the Lords 1604-29 section considers activities at the southern end of the complex in the early seventeenth century… During the early modern period parliaments were neither regular nor particularly frequent but sat at the whim of the monarch. Consequently, for most of the time the old palace of … Continue reading The House of Lords Outside Parliament Time, 1604-1629