Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Off to London to see the Queen Part 2.....

Our first excusion in London was a ride on the London Eye - here's MWM posing on the green in front of said eye.

I'm not good with heights, due to a traumatic ride on a Big Wheel at a funfair when I was young when the carriage I was riding in was stuck at the top of the wheel for what seemed like an eternity when the weather turned nasty.  However, a ride on the Eye was something MWM really wanted to do so I pushed my fear down deep and went along and I'm glad I did because it wasn't half as bad as I was expecting.      The pods are large, fully enclosed and travel very slowly, so slow in fact you barely realise it's moving, it's only if you look to either side and see another pod moving up or down that you realise you are moving.    The views are magnificent and I've put together a slide show for you.

After our ride on the London Eye we had a couple of hours before our next excursion, which we spent sightseeing after having lunch in this typical London pub.

A stroll down Whitehall found us outside Downing Street which is of course where the Prime Minister lives at number 10 and the Chancellor of the Exchequer at number 11.

Our next stop was St. Margaret's Church, which stands between Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament and is commonly called "the parish church of the House of Commons".     Originally founded in the 12th century by Benedictine monks, St Margaret's was rebuilt from 1486 to 1523 and became the parish church of the Palace of Westminster in 1614.    St Margaret's has a very unsual clock on it's tower as you can see in the next photos which should enlarge if you click on them.  That's Big Ben in the background of the first photo.

St Margaret's is a beautiful church and I was able to take some photographs

The stained glass window above the altar

The above picture is the monument to Marie, Lady Dudley, a daughter of the Lord High Admiral, Lord Howard of Effingham, and grand-daughter of Thomas, second Duke of Norfolk. She died in the year 1600, having married first Edward Sutton, Lord Dudley, and secondly Richard Montpesson, Esq., who erected the tomb.

There were lots of interesting plaques on the walls of the church, here's just a small selection (click to enlarge).

We left St. Margaret's to go just across the road for our next excursion, which was a tour of the The Palace of Westminster (The Houses of Parliament) where we joined the queue.

We entered the Palace through Westminster Hall where people such as The Queen Mother, George V, Churchill and Gladstone have laid in state and the trials of Charles I, Guy Fawkes and William Wallace (Braveheart) were held there.   There are plaques on the stairs paying testament to these trials and plaques on the floor of the hall showing where people laid in state.      Unfortunately Westminster Hall is the only place in the Palace where photography is allowed but I only took two and they are too dark to actually see much so all the following photographs are from Google images sorry.

Westminster Hall

Our guide took us through St Stephen's Hall into the Central Lobby, a large octagonal hall, is the centrepiece of the Palace. When waiting to see (or 'lobby') their MP, members of the public wait here.  Whenever you see a reporter broadcasting from The Houses of Parliament they are here in the Central Lobby.

 From here we passed through the Peers Lobby into the House of Lords Chamber.

This is where the formal state opening of Parliament takes place by Her Majesty The Queen.  Members of the House of Commons are summoned to the Lords Chamber to hear the Queen's speech by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, generally shortened to just Black Rod.    From here we passed through the Royal Gallery which forms part of the route that the Queen follows at the State Opening of Parliament. The walls contain portraits of past Kings and Queens and huge frescos of famous battles. Because the Gallery belongs to the Royal part of the Palace, it is one of the few places where both Members of the House of Lords and Members of the House of Commons can meet. It is 'neutral territory'. For this reason it is often used when important people want to address both Houses of Parliament.

The Royal Robing Room was our next stop, this is where the Queen puts on her ceremonial robes and crown before the State Opening of Parliament. The room is often considered to be the most elegant room in the Palace. The interior, including the ornate ceiling, was designed by Pugin. The walls are decorated with frescos by William Dyce.

We backtracked from here to The Members' Lobby which is next to the House of Commons Chamber. It is a place where MPs can collect messages and where the Chief Whips' offices are located. When the House is sitting it is a hive of activity. During the Second World War the Lobby suffered extensive damage and was subsequently rebuilt. It is decorated with statues of former Prime Ministers, you will perhaps recognise Winston Churchill in the photograph.

We passed through the door in the The House of Commons Chamber which was rebuilt to a design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott after it was damaged during the Second World War. The new Chamber was built in a style that was in keeping with the Chamber that had been destroyed. The layout of the Chamber consists of two sets of green benches that are opposite to each other. There is a table in the middle and the Speaker's Chair at one end. This arrangement means that the Government and Opposition MPs sit facing each other. The Chamber is actually quite small and there is only room for 427 MPs to sit down when there are 646 MPs in total. MPs who do not manage to get a seat in the chamber must sit in the gallery.   Any MP wishing to speak in the chamber must get a seat as they are not allowed to speak from the gallery.

You will notice the two red lines on the floor of the chamber just in front of the front benches - it is alleged that the distance between the two lines is slightly wider than two drawn swords thus preventing disputes between members in the House devolving into duels (though there is no written evidence of this "fact").  Protocol dictates that MPs may not cross these lines when speaking; a Member of Parliament who violates this convention will be lambasted by opposition Members. This is regarded as a possible origin for the expression "to toe the line".

We found the tour fascinating and the Palace of Westminster is a beautiful building, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Join me next time for our tour round Buckingham Palace.


A Daft Scots Lass said...

You've been a busy London bee. I'm so jealous! I love the pictures especially of the Abby.

Valerie said...

Really nice pictures of our Capital City. It's a coincidence that we share the same fate on Big Wheels at an early age, I never got over mine - at least I don't think so. Perhaps I should check it out...grins.

clean and crazy said...

your fear is not something you should worry about removing, it keeps you alert.

i LOVE these pictures wow william wallace, king george. i would be in awe.

Dumdad said...

I've been to that Red Lion pub, but a long time ago. I never been on the London Eye though - the Frog Queen has a fear of heights.

Akelamalu said...

It was a busy but thoroughly enjoyable weekend Scots Lass :)

Try the London Eye if you get the chance Valerie, it's nothing like a fairground big wheel I promise you.

I will always be wary re heights after my childhood experience Clean &Crazy but I'm pleased it didn't spoil this experience.

It's a nice pub Dumdad. Tell the Frog Queen that the London Eye is fine even for those of us who are afraid of heights.

Daryl said...

Oh this is such a wonderful treat .. cant wait to see Buckingham Palace as seen through your excellent eye!

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

i remember how shocked i was when i saw that there are people entombed in westminister abbey. i just never thought about such a thing. then i really loved looking around in there for a long time. we were there in 1974!! so long ago!

smiles, bee

Mama Zen said...

What a fascinating place!

Julia Smith said...

It's funny - even looking at The London Eye in episodes of Spooks gives me the shivers! But I'm glad you managed to enjoy the experience - who knows if I'll ever go on it...?

Thanks for the next leg of the tour - this is absolutely heavenly. Loved the plaques.

MorningAJ said...

What a gorgeous tour. Thanks for taking us with you!

Thom said...

What a tour my friend. I just love everyone of your pictures and your commentary is just wonderful. I so want to visit there. :) So rich in history :) THanks for the wonderful tour...You are the bomb :)

Linda said...

Absolutely brilliant post! I'm making notes of what I want to see in person when I get over there for my visit to see the Queen!

And of course I love the history that you've shared, too - which should come as no surprise!

secret agent woman said...

So, how's the Queen?

secret agent woman said...

So, how's the Queen?

Akelamalu said...

I hope you won't be disappointed Daryl

It does seem a wierd thing to do entombing people in a church I agree Bee. It is a fascinating place though.

It is indeed Mama Zen :)

I was very wary about the London Eye Julia but it is really good even for those of us who have a problem with heights so I recommend if you get to London you put your fears aside and give it a go. :)

You are very welcome Morning AJ, I'm pleased you're enjoying it. :)

Of course London is just full of fascinating places to visit Thom and I so hope you get to see them all for yourself someday. Glad you are enjoying them through my eyes. :)

I knew you would love the history involved in all these places Linda and God willing you will see all these places in the not too distant future. x

Unfortunately the Queen wasn't in residence at Buckingham Palace whilst we were there so we didn't get to see her SAW :(

nitebyrd said...

I love this tour! I'll have to watch the videos at home but your pictures are beautiful!

Akelamalu said...

I'm pleased you've enjoyed the pictures Nitebyrd, I did point out though that the pictures of the Houses of Parliament are borrowed from Google as photography in there is not allowed. The other photos are mine though. :)

Cildemer said...

Loved the London eye and all the information about the places you visited in London!

Thanks for sharing*
and have a happy Sunday*******

Emmie said...

wow how lovely your photos are fantastic.. It makes me think about how much I neeed to get my bottom into london for a little trip myself!!

CrystalChick said...

Looks and sounds like a wonderful trip!!! I enjoyed ALL of the photos on here and in the slide show. Magnificent!