Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Houses of Parliament, London

The Houses of Parliament is another iconic landmark in London. The buildings are very close to Westminster Abbey and the area was originally (i.e. in the 11th century) a palace. Only one hall (Westminster Hall) remains from that period. The current building was constructed after a fire in 1834. Sir Charles Barry made a fantastic Gothic structure that has been imitated in other cities in Europe.

We approached from the other side of Westminster Bridge, giving some nice views of the Thames side of the building.

Houses of Parliament

Family on the bridge

Big Ben

The Parliament is divided into two houses. The House of Commons has the elected Members of Parliament (often called "MPs"). Whichever party has the most MPs forms the government and its leader becomes the Prime Minister. The House of Lords is the unelected part of Parliament, consisting of peers, law lords, bishops, and archbishops.

The building has several statues around it, some closer than others. Over near Westminster Hall is a statue of Oliver Cromwell, leader of England from 1649 to 1660, between Charles I and Charles II. But that's a long story.

Parliament's Westminster Hall

Oliver Cromwell

Across the street from Cromwell is a statue of George V who reigned from 1910 to 1936. He's also the grandfather of current monarch Elizabeth II.

George V

Nearby in Parliament Square is a statue of Abraham Lincoln! The statue is a copy of the 12-foot bronze statue found in Lincoln Park, Chicago. It was given to Prime Minister David Lloyd George by the American Ambassador in July 1920.

Abraham Lincoln: The Man, copy of Augustus Saint-Gaudens's work

Across the street from Big Ben is Boudica, the Iceni tribe queen who led a revolt against the Romans in the 50s AD. She is naturally a heroine of the British people. The statue is call Boadicea and Her Daughters (those ancient names always have multiple spellings) and was crafted by Thomas Thornycroft in 1864 though it wasn't cast in bronze until 1902, 17 years after his death.

Boadicea and Her Daughters

Front view of Boadicea and Her Daughters

Goodbye, Parliament!

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