Last year, the first-ever public tours of the richly decorated Speakers House inside Parliament took place, and they’re running them again for a few days in April.

The State Dining Room in Speaker’s House (c) UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Speaker’s House can almost be described as a Palace within a Palace, as it’s exceptionally richly decorated and is both the private home of the Speaker of the House of Commons and also a suite of state rooms used for events away from the main Parliamentary buildings.

The tours were an idea of the current Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle who wants to open up more of the estate to the general public.

Tours start in Westminster Hall, where you’re supplied with radio headpieces to wear, so the tour guide can talk without shouting to be heard, then a walk around the outside into a courtyard where the stone entrance to Speakers House leads up a grand staircase to the main staterooms.

A lot of the tour is looking at the decoration and learning about the role of the Speaker and how the rooms have changed over the years. The State Bedroom was created for an old tradition that a new monarch spent the night there before their coronation. These days it’s just used to house a big bed. An entire room for a bed just to be looked at.

The tour I went on was fascinating partly for the parliamentary history, but as much because the Speakers House had never been open to tours, and is also rarely seen in the press.

The rooms can be used for events though, and if you work for a charity that wouldn’t mind, ahem, borrowing a room for an evening fundraising function or thank you type event for volunteers, drop a note to your MP to ask if they will put in a request. It’s a pretty impressive space to be allowed into.

The public tours last around 75 minutes and include the Grand Staircase, the Crimson Drawing Room, the State Dining Room, and the State Bedroom.

The tour starts and finishes in Westminster Hall which you are welcome to explore afterwards.

The tours will take place for a few days in April, and can be booked from here. They sold out very quickly the last time tours were offered.

  • General tickets: £20
  • Young person (16-24): £12
  • UK armed forces: £12
  • Essential Companion: Free

Note, no photography is allowed whatsoever on the tours except when in Westminster Hall, and they advise that while there’s no explicit age limit, the tours have not been designed for children.

All profits from these tours will go to the Speaker’s Art Fund, which supports arts and educational projects with a focus on increasing understanding of Parliamentary democracy across the UK.

The Crimson Drawing Room (c) UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor


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