During my weekend escapade in London last September, I had the opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament. The Parliament was opened to the public every year when the session was on recess from 31 July to 29 September.
Since I am a student, I got a discounted price of £8 (from £12), but for kids is £5 and family for £30. The tour arrangement was good where we were organised in a group of 20-25 persons with a tour guide. Unfortunately, the tour did not include the tour for Big Ben and the Clock Tower. It took almost 1 ½ hours to complete the tour, including taking a snack in the small restaurant inside the compound.
There are so many things to learn from the tour. For example, why the motif in the House of Commons is green and red for the House of Lords? Moreover, what is the significance of the portraits (paintings) of St David, St Patrick, St Andrew and St George inside the Parliament? One of the rooms inside the Parliament reminded me of the 4 important virtues: courtesy, generosity, hospitality, mercy, including the importance of 'religion'.
The House of the Lords is one of the most decorated room and I cant explained how I feel when I was inside this place where legislations are examine and pass by unelected and unpaid 740 members which include Archbishops and bishops and hereditary and prominent peers. This is also a ceremonial place for the State Opening of Parliament by Her Majesty the Queen.
The House of Commons is an ordinary chamber which is commonly watched on TV live coverage. Watching the session on TV, I thought it is a huge room but being there, it is much smaller than expected. It has a seating capacity of 437 for the 646 members of the Parliament, including the side galleries for the public.
Other interesting places include the Central lobby, Queen's Robing Room, Sovereign's Entrance, Royal Gallery, St Stephen's Hall and the Westminster Hall (the original structure).
By the way, the Clock Tower is one of the Parliament's best known features, popularly mistaken as the Big Ben. Actually, Big Ben is the nickname of the 'bell' housed inside the Clock Tower, and Augustus Pugin is the name of the clock designer.
Finding more about the Parliament' business, please visit this link: About Parliament or Clock Tower.
Note: For families planning to go next year, the tour is not ideal especially for young kids considering that majority of the attractions inside the buildings are much more of adults' interest; and too early for kids to understand the British politics! Lastly, cameras are not allowed inside the main chambers of the Parliament, except for the assembly area of the tour and the Westminster Hall.