Parliament SquareCraig Easy to get to?★★★ Good for kids?★★★ Value for money?n/a Worth a visit?★★★303
Parliament Square is in the heart of Westminster bordered by Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abbey. There are also statues to the great and good, including Prime Minister Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.
The Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament have occupied the same spot since 1016, when King Canute built a royal residence. It was gutted by fire in 1834, and Charles Barry designed the gothic-style replacement.
The oldest surviving part is Westminster Hall – where England’s leading lights are laid in State. It also served as the country’s highest court until the mid 19th-century. The most famous case involved a certain Guy Fawkes, who was tried for treason in the Gunpowder Plot.
The two main chambers are the House of Lords – where the nobles used to sit – and the House of Commons, where the Prime Minister comes face to face with members of the opposition. Members of the public can watch these lively debates from up high in the gallery.
Westminster Abbey is the setting for coronations, State funerals, and the burial place of many celebrated British figures.
Edward the Confessor was the first to be interred here, and William the Conqueror was crowned in 1066. The famous Coronation Chair from 1292 may look modest, but it has been used at nearly every coronation for 700 years.
A popular part of the Abbey is Poet’s Corner – where the nation’s poets and playwrights are laid to rest. You can see the graves and memorials to Chaucer, Milton, Tennyson, Wordsworth and Shakespeare.
St. Margaret’s church is right next door to the Abbey, and is known as the parish church of Parliament.
Many famous people have been married here, including Samuel Pepys (1665), John Milton (1656) and Sir Winston Churchill (1908). The stained-glass window records another engagement – that of Prince Arthur to Catherine of Aragon. She later married his younger brother, Henry VIII.
DON – “One of London's great squares, with fantastic buildings on each side -- parliament, westminster abbey, the foreign office and the majestc buildings down the length whitehall. One criticism: I have been going to parliament square my whole life, and I have never seen the level of protesters that I have recently. Sometimes it seems that the green has been taken over by the cub scouts, with the amount of tents on it. I dont mind people protesting, but when people camp out to protest about things like the burmese elections, I think to myself why? What has these things got to to do with the british parliament? Why should we have our great square ruined so they can protest about things that we were not involved in, and have nothing to do with? Rant over.”
JerrySmith – “I was at parliament square this week and it is still full of tents. I thought when they got rid of brian haws that meant they could move on all the other people too, but it is still full of tents. The grass has been fenced off so they cant get on there anymore, but they have simply moved all their tents onto the pavement around the grass instead. There is probably about 20 of them. I looked at their placards and some of them are just crazy. They are still protesting about iraq. Are we even in iraq anymore? I thought we moved all our troops out ages ago. Iraq is a free democratic country now with its own parliament. What are they still protesting about? Another placard was about north korea. What that has got to do with us I do not know. I have some advice for the bloke protesting about that: go and protest to someone who can actually do something about it, like america, or south korea. Shouting at the british governm”
ChrisP – “They cant stop people protesting outside parliament, because that will make a complete mockery of our democracy. What kind of a signal will it give if they ban free speech outside the very place that is supposed to safeguard free speech? They need to strike a balance between the right to protest, and people who abuse that right. People who set up tents so they can live there are abusing it, I think. If they want to protest every single day of the year, fine. Let them do that. But dont let them build a house outside parliament so they can live there 24 hours a day.”