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How Big Ben originally got its Nickname

With the news that the Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster is to be renamed Elizabeth Tower, comes the usual speculation about how the huge bell within got its nickname of Big Ben.

Photos from inside Westminster Hall

If you saw any of the Queenly speech at Parliament the other day, you might have noticed that it took place in the awesome venue of Westminster Hall. This grand space although used for functions, spends most of its life

How the media reported that “Big Ben” is leaning

Over the weekend, the sort of story that has newspaper editors salivating cropped up – that Big Ben is leaning to one side and that the angle is now noticeable to the naked eye. Obviously, the first caveat is that

700th Anniversary of the Banishment of Piers Gaveston

Today marks the 700th anniversary of the meeting of Parliament that resulted in the presentation of the Ordinances of 1311 to King Edward II, and the eventual banishment of Piers Gaveston from the realm. Piers Gaveston – the favourite, and

Vote for the Parliamentary Foam Party

Much has been written and watched about yesterday’s incident in Portcullis House when a self-described comedian and now ex-member of the Labour Party and UK Uncut decided to divert the entire media attention away from what was being said by

Fantasy Architecture – Parliament Square

As noted elsewhere, there are plans to make the grassy protest site of Parliament Square considerably more convenient for protesters tourists to access by means of putting a pedestrian crossing in place. Currently – as I have often done –

Art and architecture tours of Portcullis House

Not sure how long they have been doing these, as I haven’t seen it before, but it turns out that there now are twice monthly tours of the new Parliament Building, Portcullis House. To be fair, I don’t look at

Westminster is NOT the Mother of all Parliaments

I have again today come across the famous saying that “Westminster is the Mother of all Parliaments”, and indeed, the “Westminster System” of politics does operate in many countries. However, the claim that Westminster is the Mother of all Parliaments,

Beware unexpected visitors on Christmas Day

The turkey is cooking, the smell drifts around the single room you call a home for your entire family. Small sprigs of holly and ivy, rosemary and bays decorate the room. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. Afraid,

Visiting the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

As part of the Open House London weekend, one of my pre-booked tours included a visit to the newish Supreme Court building in Westminster. Not the first time I have been in the building, as I have been in once

Photos of London from the top of the Millbank Tower

Just down the road from the Houses of Parliament is the 1960s tower block, the Millbank Tower. Famous for its uncompromising brutal aesthetic in an area dominated by classical stone buildings and for hosting the Labour Party for a few

Free tours of Victoria Tower at the Houses of Parliament

As part of a UK-wide Discovering Places event, Parliament is leading short tours, showing familiar yet unexpected aspects of its buildings and works of art. Although most of the tour options are ones that anyone who goes in to the

Saturday tours of the Houses of Parliament

There have been tours of the Houses of Parliament during the Summer Recess for some years – but did you know they are now available all year round? Trawling through the House of Commons Early Day Motions (as you do),

The Queen’s Speech and a Coalition Government – of 1854

On this day, marking the first Queen’s Speech delivered by a coalition government to Queen Elizabeth II, I take time to reflect on an earlier Queen’s Speech, when there was not so much a Coalition Government as a single-party state.

A Declaration of War

You may recall that just a few weeks ago I attended the formal reading of the Proclamation for the Dissolution of Parliament as it was read on the steps of the Royal Exchange in the City of London. Such a

The Proclamation for the Dissolution of the Present Parliament

With the traditional cry of Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!, the Cryer read out the formal document, written in that wonderfully old fashioned language that never changes.

Rehearsing the State Opening of Parliament

Although the State Opening of Parliament happens every year pretty much without fail, the people involved in it tend not to be there every year, so the huge precession needs to be practiced before the live event. While a fair

Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

Let me tell you a story – was how a talk this lunchtime by Prof. Steven Levitt started as he gave a talk about economics and some of the weird but true facts he has come across in his research.