The now semi-regular opportunity to see inside the richly decorated Speakers House within the Houses of Parliament is returning, and will be running through most of the summer.

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, but 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, with the first tours taking place in 2022.

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 Crimson Drawing Room (c) UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

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 – and at the moment, the Speakers State Coach is on display in the hall.

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

Tickets are on sale from here.

The tours run Mon-Sat from 22nd July to 2nd September 2023.

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 are aimed at people aged over 16.

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.


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