Parliament Tour

October 31, 2007 at 2:50 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Every year during the summer recess you can take the opportunity to go on a tour of the Houses of Parliament or, more formally, the Palace of Westminster. Outside this period you can make a request of your local politician but for foreign tourists this may be challenging.

It’s best to buy your tickets early online but you can try and purchase them on the day as well. After progressing through the security check point you’ll make your way into the reception hall and divided into your tour group (for example the 10AM tour has 4 sub groups A-D). 

London (2) Parliament Parliament (2)

Throughout the next hour or so they will be pushing each sub group through the halls quickly and efficiently. Generally, two or three groups will be in any one section and the downside is that you will get audio overflow from the other groups potentially drowning out the content of your own guide. On the flip side each guide seems to have their own slant on the history of Parliament, focusing on slightly different aspects and for the aural multitasker you have the opportunity to take in a greater wealth of information.

That’s right! An actual guide, no audio tours at the Houses of Parliament. My guide was a particularly friendly and esteemed looking woman who gave a certain gravitas to the tour. She was also helpful in answering additional questions.

Throughout the tour you will only be able to take photos in the final great hall and this even extends to the central hall the camera crews use for the nightly broadcasts. Given their desire to keep people moving I can appreciate the restriction even if it is annoying.

Parliament (24) Parliament (23) Parliament (3) Parliament (7)

Within the context of about an hour they pack in a digestible history of the building and some of the practices that go into current UK democracy. Conversely, there isn’t a great deal of time spent on the formation of said democracy.

The differences in the pomp and ceremony between the more ostentatious House of Lords and the relatively plainer House of Commons was interesting as are the struggles and competitions between the Houses, for example for the Queen’s arrival and speech.

Architecture and artistry fill each space making the House of Parliament tour a worthwhile stop for history/ politics buffs and fine arts connoisseurs alike.

Parliament (9)

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