THE TRAVELLING HISTORIAN --PARLIAMENT

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PARLIAMENT

Palace of Westminster
photo by
G. Wilson

The tour of this magnificent palace was a highlight of the London visit.

Orignallly Edward the Confessor's palace, this rambling place became the main residence of England's monarchs for 450 years. Henry VIII changed all that when he departed the aging structure and moved next door to York Place which he renamed Whitehall.

Westminster became the centre of the country's government. On 16 October 1834, a fire broke out in the Old Palace of Westminster after an overheated stove used to destroy the Exchequer's stockpile of tally sticks set fire to the House of Lords' Chambre. In the resulting conflagration, both Houses of Parliament were destroyed.

In 1836 after studying 97 rival proposals, the Royal Commission chose Charles Barry's plan for a neo-Gothic-style palace. This design was chosen to underline modern self-government's continuity with its medieval past. The foundation stone for the New Palace of Westminster was laid in 1840. It took twenty years to build. A big building, there are over 2 miles of passages in the Houses of Parliament. Barry became disappointed and embittered because he was cheated out of his proper fee.

Big Ben
photo by
G. Wilson

Big Ben
photo by
G. Wilson

His curiously pointed tower became known as Big Ben.

Named after Sir Benjamin Hall, Chief Commissioner of Works, the bell was hung in 1858. The first bell cracked during a test ring and this second one has a slight crack. It is checked three times a week and is accurate to within one second. It is 96.3 metres (315.9 ft.) high and has four clock faces that are 7 m (23 ft.) square. The minute hand alone stands 4.3 m (14 ft.) long. The numbers on its face are 61 cm (2 ft.) long.

Big Ben is balanced by the 336-foot Victoria Tower

Entrance to Victoria Tower
photo by
G. Wilson

The clock tower originally contained a small prison cell, whose last occupant in 1902 was Emmeline Pankhurst. One of the first femminists, she and her daughters gave the authorities all kinds of trouble as they protested vigorously for womens' right to vote.

Mrs. Pankhurst carried off from outside Buckingham Palace May 1914

The Pankhurst family had been divided before the war - the younger sisters, Sylvia and Adela, already estranged from Christabel and their mother, Emmeline, after arguments over suffragette tactics. These divisions became unbridgeable with World War I. Sylvia and Adela stayed true to their socialist internationalism and opposed the war. Christabel and Emmeline became pro-war ultra-patriots.

Mother Emmeline (born 15 July, 1858, died 14 June, 1928) along with daughters Christabel and Sylvia formed the Women's Social and Political Union in 1903. The WSPU was perhaps the most militant of the suffragist organizations advocating "Deeds not Words". Demanding that English women be given the vote, they backed up their words by breaking windows, chaining themselves to the homes of important men, breaking up meetings, and refusing to be intimidated. Their actions were often met with violent response. In one instance, Christabel was kicked down stairs and forcibly ejected from the building because she dared ask Sir Edward Grey what the intentions of the government were about suffrage for women (he refused to answer). The Pankhursts were arrested and jailed many times. When imprisoned, they would go on hunger strikes, only to be brutally force-fed. In 1918, women over thirty who were householders or wives of householders were given the right to vote.

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline, head suffragette and leader of the Women's Suffrage Movement, had been imprisioned more than half a dozen times for her activities, including inciting to riot, window breaking, assault and complicity in a bomb outrage on Lloyd George's house, She died at the age of sixty-eight in June. In 1928 three months before Emmeline's death, English women were fully enfranchised.

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline's shenanigans as suffragette soured many including Churchill, for everyone knew the vote was too valuable to be wasted on women. Emmeline won out over Winston and is memorialized with a statue in Victoria Tower Gardens by the river on the south side of Parliament. It was unveiled 6 March, 1930 two years after her death by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin,

Statue of Emmeline Pankhurst
(1857-1928)
by A.G. Walker

photo by
G. Wilson

The prime minister stated at the time of the dedication: "I say with no fear of contradiction, that whatever view posterity may take, Mrs. Pankhurst has won for herself a niche in the Temple of Fame which will last for all time."
["While the transition from martyrdom to sculptured memorial is familiar, the process in Mrs. Pankhurst's case has been unusually brief." NY Times]

Emmeline's Tombstone
Brompton Cemetery

Richard I
by Carlo Marochetti
Erected October 1860 on West side (Old Palace Yard) of Parliament by the Peers' Entrance, its location was chosen by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband.
photo by
G. Wilson

Coeur de Lion
(Cost 5000 pounds)
photo by
G. Wilson

Richard the Lionheart

photo by
G. Wilson

Royal Entrance to Victoria Tower
photo by
G. Wilson

Victoria Tower contains all Parliamentary documents including Hansard Records and the master copies of all Acts of Parliament since 1497.

Westminster Palace and Westminster Hall

Our tour of the Palace of Westminster led off in the magnificent medieval Westminster Hall, the vast concourse that is the oldest part of the building. The 240-foot hall was begun in 1097 and completed in 1099. What makes it such an astonishing building is not simply its great size and the magnificence of its roof, but its central role in British history. In and around it are the major institutions of the British state: Parliament, the law courts and various government offices. Additions were planned by Henry II in 1245, but because of the plague, the plans were never carried out.

Hammerbeam Roof of Westminster Hall

This magnificent structure is Richard II's only claim to any fame, for this king, who was deposed and murdered, made it one of his main architectural projects. It became a meeting place for royal government and a sumptuous display of the king's majesty. Niches along the wall were filled with fifteen life-size statues of kings.

Its magnificent hammerbeam roof was created by Richard II's chief mason Henry Yevele and his chief royal carpenter, Hugh Herland. Yevele had been involved in nearly all the great building projects of the late 14th century, such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral. He also built the Jewel Tower in 1365-66. In redesigning the roof, Herland fashioned great oak beams to serve as horizontal supports fixed to the walls, which Yevele strengthened by massive buttresses. Wooden arches joined to the top of these beams met centrally in a span of 18 metres (60 feet) or more. Onto these arches the craftsmen built the slopes of the roof, with its weight borne by the hammer-beams supported in their turn by the buttressed walls.

Considered one of the structural and artistic masterpieces of the Middle Ages, the hammerbeam roof spans the 69ft (21.1m) width of the hall in two structural stages. The whole roof seems to be supported on the backs of the huge, hovering figures of angels carved on each hammerbeam.

In the fire of 1834, Westminster Hall was saved, thanks to heroic fire-fighting efforts and a change in the direction of the wind. Threatened again when the Commons was hit by a bomb during the blitz in May 1941, Churchill instructed the firemaen, "Save Westminster Hall at all costs." They did, but the Commons' chamber burnt.

Westminster Hall.
photo by
G. Wilson

National events of historic importance have taken place here since its inception. One of the most frequent of these is the lying in state of sovereigns, each of which is marked by a brass plaque placed in the floor.

This plethera of plaques honours
Edward VII 1910; George V 1936; Queen Mary 1953; Sir Winston Churchill 1965; Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother 2002; (William Gladstone, 1890)
photo by
G.Wilson

Plaques of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth
photo by
G.Wilson

This high honour is rarely accorded commoners, but exceptions are made. Prime ministers, whose service to queen/king and country has been extraordinary, lie in state in this historic hall, so that a grateful public may file by their bier and remember their greatness with gratitude. This ultimate honour was given to Sir William Pitt the Younger, who lay in state there for two days - February 20 and 21, 1806, before his burial in Westminster Abbey on the 22nd. William Gladstone was the first commoner to be accorded the honour of lying in state in Westminster Hall. Huge crowds gathered to watch the coffin, borne by pall-bearers that included - much to the displeasure of Queen Victoria who had never liked Gladstone - the Prince of Wales (Edward VII) and the Duke of York (George V). It was carried from Westminster Hall to the west door of Westminster Abbey for burial in the north transept of the Abbey, close to the statues of Sir Robert Peel and Disraeli. She asked the Prince of Wales, then 57, what advice he had taken and what precedent he had followed when he acted as pall-bearer. He said simply, he had sought no advice and knew of no precedent.

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Winston Churchill, whose service to the nation and the world warranted the nation's highest honour, was next prime minister after Gladstone to lie in state in Westminster Hall. His funeral, a glorious affair, equalled that of Lord Horatio Nelson's, till then the most impressibly prestigious ever accorded any of the nation's notables. As the leader of free men in a time of supreme crisis, Churchill was incomparable.

When darkness descended over Europe, and Britain and indeed the world were threatened with the black scourge that had enveloped the continent, one man made the difference. In addition to the awesome magnitude of the mandate he had been given, weighed down as he was by the constant worry of what was to come, he was badgered by cabinet colleagues to humour Hitler with some signal of caving. He stood almost alone at that critical moment in opposing the slightest sign of sagging. He neither wavered nor weakened and the wonder of his words strengthened his country and the world. Tiny Denmark had been overrun by Nazis hordes and hope disappeared from all hearts, Then they heard Winston's words and found reason to believe that all was not lost. An emotional guide at the Danish palace told us when we toured it, that his stirring words were like the great oak tree outside the entrance, a strong, fearless voice for people to take strength from, a beam of light at the end of a long, black tunnel. One dauntless man made the difference, defiantly declaring to the laughter and love of the people he led, "Let him come. We are waiting and so are the fishes."

Winston at Rest in Westminster Hall

Winston Was Here
photo by
G.Wilson

Westminister Hall has been the scene of happy as well as harrowing events.

One of the former was the coronation banquet of Richard I. At the time of his father's death in the July of 1189, Richard was in France, where the English Crown then had vast dominions. On his return to England the Coronation was held at Westminster on September 3rd. After being sanctified as sovereign in Westminster Abbey, Richard exchanged his heavy ceremonial robes for an elegant tunic and cloak and adjourned to Westminster Hall where he and 900 men-no women were invited to the feast-sat down to a coronation banquet.

Richard I

No sooner had the festivities finished, than Richard set about collecting funds for the Crusades. It is no exaggeration to state, that he almost broke the country, siphoning off more money during his ten-year term than during any previous ten-year period. Richard put everything up for sale and even men holding positions had to pay to keep them. "I would have sold London could I have found a buyer," declared the newly-minted monarch.

A striking example of a harrowing happening was the trial of a king who lost crown, head and all in this Hall.

Charles I

Charles I by Sir Anthony van Dyck

From the very beginning of his reign, Charles I, who believed in the divine right of kings, opposed all attempts by Parliament to restrict his power. He was able to rule, but only as long as he did not require finances, which only parliament could grant.

Eventually, push came to shove and then blows, resulting in the First English Civil War 1642-1646 between the Roundhead Parliamentarians led by Cromwell and the Cavaliers Royalists, led by Charles I. The biggest and bloodiest battle occurred at Marston Mooron 2 July, 1644 and it was a decisive victory for the Parliamentarians,"God made them stubble to our swords." said Cromwell. The conflict seesaweb back and forth until the spring of 1646, when the Cavaliers called it quits. A partial power vacuum resulted in a tense peace prevailing until 1648 when war broke out again.

Charles I attempts to arrest five members of the House of Commons in 1642.
by Charles Cope West

The Second Civil War was short and simple. Cromwell, a leader who rode between public fame and private frustration, led the horse and foot of the New Model Army and the militia. While they were outnumbered, Cromwell's superior trained forces succeeded in defeating the Royal rascals and by 1649 all was over. It was a triumph for 20,000 resolute, disciplined, daunting Ironsides.

The consequences for causing the conflict were swift and sharp; royalist leaders literally lost their heads. After the army and the independents had conducted the "People's Purge" of the House, resulting in the removal of any opposition, they created a court for the trial and sentence of Charles I, the pivot upon which public opinion turned. The king's alliance with the Scots and his subsequent defeat in the Second Civil War, convinced Cromwell that the king must be brought to justice for"traitorously and maliciously" levying war against his own people. Oliver was a prime mover in the trial and the execution of Charles I in 1649.

Westminster Hall was readied for the trial.
photo by
G. Wilson

17th Century Drawing with courts In Session in Westminster Hall
Judges under the Canopy; Lawyers in long gowns with wide sleeves

It began there on 19 January 1649 and spectators thronged the great hall. Charles, dressed all in black with the Star of the Garter round his neck, was seated at the south end of the Hall on a chair upholstered in red velvet. Guards flanked him. The men, including Cromwell, who consented to act as his judges sat in three rows on a raised dais under the canopy in front of Charles .On entering Charles gave them "a stern looking" and showed his disdain for its legality by failing to remove his hat. The charge: "Tyrant, traitor, murderer and public and implacable enemy of the Commonwealth of England." As the trial proceeded in the great concourse, the sympathy of the onlookers was decidedly with the sovereign.

To no one's surprise, the 59 judges found Charles guilty of high treason. Their sentence: to die "by the severing of his head from his body." This declaration was met with a low, deep drone of disagreement from the watching hordes and emotional murmuring of the God Save the King.

Charles sat here and heard the horrid sentence.
photo by
G. Wilson

Death Warrant of Charles I signed by 59 regicides.

Charles had no end of supporters then and now, for instead of the villain he was deemed the victim. Even that great parliamentarian, Winston Churchill, bemoaned the death of King Charles. Forever a fervent royalist, Winston castigated Cromwell for daring to sully the sanctity of the sovereign and stage manage his murder.

At 2 p.m. on 30 January, 1649, bitter cold day, the king mounted the scaffold in front of the Banqueting House of the Palace of Westminster.where his head was severed by a masked executioner, his identify hidden for fear of vengeance.

Moans at the death of A Monarch

Moans at the death of A Monarch

Where on earth do you bury a decapitated king? This is the conundrum that confronted the Commons when Charles I met his fate at the end of an axe. What to do with the body of a king executed as a traitor? This unusual situation exercised both royal supporters and those of Parliament for several days after Charles I was executed on 30 January, 1649.

On 6 February, Sir Thomas Herbert, Charles' loyal Groom of the Bedchamber, who had been with him to the end and Captain Anthony Mildmay, were granted permission by the authorities to bury the king in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, something of a compromise site. Westminster Abbey would have been too glorious an end in Parliament's eyes and too central to affairs in London. At the chapel in Windsor, Charles would be interred with the likes of Henry VI, Henry VIII and Edward IV. Its associations with the Order of the Garter was also felt by the late king's friends to be fitting for Charles.

Thus on 9 February, 1649, the body and head of Charles I were brought on a black-draped hearse to Windsor Castle through a heavy snowstorm, accompanied by some of the great nobles left to the royal party.

Burial of Charles I at Windsor Castle by C.W.Cope

Precisely where in the Chapel of St George, Charles should be laid to rest was not decided when the burial party arrived. Various graves were considered and finally the tomb of Henry VIII was determined as fitting to his status.

Charles' remains resting temporarily in his old bedchamber were brought down to the chapel without ceremony. His enemies were determined his burial would not be a rallying point nor add to the nascent view of him as martyr. A basic budget of Ł500 was set for carriage and interment. Bishop Juxon was supposedly obstructed by the Governor of Windsor Castle at every end and turn. During the laying of Charles' body in the tomb occupied by Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, the Parliamentary witnesses pointedly and insultingly kept their hats on. No burial service proper was allowed and no words or prayers were said over the king's remains. Once the body was in the tomb and the black pall laid over it, everyone was ushered out of the Chapel by the Governor, who locked it and pocketed the keys. The power of Parliament presided over the king in death as in life had been very clearly displayed.

Tomb of Henry VIII; Jane Seymour; Charles I
photo by
G. Wilson

Thenceforth, Oliver Cromwell presided over the demise of the monarchy in England and replaced it with a republic in 1649.Very interestingly, Oliver Cromwell's ambassador to Switzerland was none other than John Pell, Geri's 8th great-grandfather. He was summoned home by Cromwell in the following letter.

Oliver Cromwell's Letter to John Pell

Oliver Cromwell's Letter to John Pell

On August 12 Pell boarded the Naseby and on August 13 set foot on English soil. On the 24th he went up to London and was preparing to make his formal report to Cromwell when on September 3, the Protector suddenly died. "As a consequence Pell, instead of reporting to the Protector, attended his funeral on November 23 with a suite, having provided for him (Pell) on that occasion nine yards of 24 shillings per yard black cloth and six of 15 shilling black cloth." Oliver Cromwell's son, Richard, succeeded him as lord protector of England. He lacked the force and finesse of his father and the support of the army on which his power depended. His period as protector lasted from only September 1658 to May 1659.

Royalty returned in the person of Charles II. He and his court sailed from Holland in the warship London [*] On 29 May 1660, his 30th birthday, Charles rode proudly in triumphant style into London on 29 May 1660 at the head of a great procession. The host was so huge that the king’s party, "brandishing their swords and shouting with inexpressible joy," took seven hours to pass through the city. With this merry multitude, Charles Stuart reclaimed the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. After more than a decade of drear republican government, the return of the king was greeted with unbridled jubilation.

Not by all rejoiced at his return, however, for fear fixated many. The decapitated king's son is portrayed by some as a vindictive and unscrupulous young man, who was determined to wreak revenge upon his father’s executioners by whatever means he could. Restoration saw most of the regicides still alive and well within reach. Many of those caught were decapitated like the king. Some faced their fate stoicallly. " Come, brother Peter, let us knock at heaven-gates this morning. God will open the doors of eternity to us before twelve of the clock!" A few were sentenced to life imprisonment.

How should Cromwell stand
With knights and with queenlings hewn in stone.

Oliver Cromwell outside Westminster Hall
by Sir Hamo Thornycroft
photo by
G. Wilson

"We are English, that is one good fact."
Oliver Cromwell to Parliament, 17 September 1656

" A devotee of law, he was forced to be often lawless; a civilian to the core, he had to maintain himself by the sword; with a passion to construct, his task was chiefly to destroy; the most scrupulous of men, he had to ride roughshod over his own scruples and those of others; the tenderest, he had continually to harden his heart; the most English of our greater figures, he spent his life in opposition to the majority of Englishmen; a realist, he was condemned to build that which could not last." [John Buchan]

When the subject of statues around Parliament came up in the 18th century and the name of Oliver Cromwell was mentioned, it was greeted with ominous rumblings of wrath. Those expressing disgust at the very idea won the day. On the 300th anniversary of Oliver's birth in 1899 a new proposal was made and this time Oliver prevailed. Placed just outside the House of Commons, Cromwell's statue was the gift of Lord Rosebery. Created at a cost of 3,000 pounds, it was unveiled 14 November 1899 by Lord Rosebury along with three prominent Jewish gentlemen to show their appreciation of the Lord Proctector's welcome to their race. Rosebury spoke of Cromwell as "a raiser and maintainer of the power of the Empire of England." The poet, Charles Swinburne concurred with a poem entitled, "Cromwell's Statue."

What needs our Cromwell stone or bronze to say
His was the light that lit on England's way
The sun dawn of her time compelling power
The noon time of her most imperial day?

His hand won back the sea for England's dower
His footfall bade the Moor change heart and cower
His word on Milton's tongue spake law to France
When Piedmont felt the she-wolf Rome devour.

From Parliament Cromwell glares across at a rather ragged Charles I on St.Margaret's Church. The statue was found in a builder's yard and erected in 1950. The ancient adversaries will eye each other for eternity.

Charles I's head on St. Margaret's Church

What once was Cromwell's Tomb in Westminster Abbey

Cromwell had ruled in such grandeur, there was uncertainty about whether he would be a new 'Moses or new monarch'. Many speculated he would soon be crowned king, but he died of malarial fever in September 1658 aged 59 and was interred in the Abbey in a fine ceremony modelled on the funeral of James I. He was buried in the same vault as his son-in-law, Henry Ireton, a signer of the death warrant of Charles I. They joined John Bradshaw, president of the High Court at the trial.

Their tenure in the tomb was short-lived. Cromwell's failed manipulation of that moment between monarchs resulted after Restoration in his body being exhumed, ritually hanged and decapitated at Tyburn on 30 January 1661. His head was then mounted on a pole and put on public display outside Westminster Hall. His body was buried in quicklime at the foot of the gallows. Cromwell’s severed head wasn’t buried until 1960 at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Their stone slab records simply "these [remains] were removed in 1661".

For a few weeks only, visitors to Westminster Abbey can gaze on the second-last resting place of Oliver Cromwell, the grave which the Lord Protector occupied for less than three years before being dug up. The stone slabs engraved in the 19th century with the name of Cromwell and his relatives are usually covered by a blue carpet bearing the RAF crest. Recently moths were discovered in the building's historic textiles. So the carpet has been lifted and sent off to be deep frozen to kill any grubs, leaving the chapel's extraordinary history exposed until the end of August.

Called by some one of the the most infamous figures in British history, Cromwell was elected as one of the Top 10 Britons of all time in a 2002 BBC poll. In WW II the name "Cromwell" became the codeword warning that the German invasion of Britain was about to occur.

The great Hall of Westminster hosted another show-case trial on Monday 27 January 1606, when Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were found guilty of attenpting to blow up Parliament and the person of the king. It was a trial in name only, for a guilty verdict had already been pronounced - the sentence: to be drawn, hanged, disembowled and quartered.

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Happier history was made recently in this Hall when Pope Benedict XVI addressed all of the living prime ministers and Members of Parliament of Great Britain on 17 September 2010. He expressed his "esteem for the Parliament which has existed on this site for centuries" and called British common law tradition, "an inspiration to many around the world."

Sir Thomas More plaque in Westminster Hall
photo by
G. Wilson

The irony of the moment was not lost on the many present, for when the Pope spoke these words, he was standing not far from where fidelity to the Holy Father was once a beheading offence. It was here on 6 July 1535, Thomas More, former lord chancellor and Speaker of the House of Commons, was tried and later taken to Tower Hill and executed for refusing to recognize Henry VIII's marriage and his newly created Church.

Mother of Parliaments
photo by
G. Wilson

The Palace of Westminster is a huge place with over 1000 rooms. We were warned to stay close to our guide, for if we got lost, we might stray about and starve, for while there are 8 bars and 6 restaurants, none is open to the public.

It comprises two Houses of Parliament: the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

First to the House of Lords, chamber of an unelected body comprising: law lords, bishops, archbishops, life peers and some hereditary peers, the latter lords' number has recently been reduced. There is not sufficient room for all to attend and they rarely do at the same time.

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House of Lords

The entrance to the House of Commons is heralded by statues of pugnacious Winston on the left and David Lloyd George on the right, prime ministers during critical times during the life of the country.

Entrance to the House of Commons

Believing Lloyd George looked a bit overwhelmed by Winston, it was decided that something had to be done. Little resulted after long thought by a committee headed by Churchill, so they simply opted to layer Lloyd and at least level him with Winston.

Across the hall from these two are statues similarly situated of Margaret Thatcher, first female PM and the "sheep in sheep's clothing", Clement Atlee. the "modest man who had much to be modest about." Clement had the last laugh with this bit of doggeral.

Few thought he was even a starter,
There were many who thought themselves smarter.
But he ended PM
CH and OM
An Earl and a Knight of the Garter.

We found the House of Commons to be surprisingly quite small, almost intimate. There are some 650 members, but only 500 or so can be packed in. Churchill said they did not want sufficient accommodations for all, because having it crowded gave every session a sense of tension, importance, even crisis.

House of Commons

Parliament and Westminster Bridge
3 Towers from left: Victoria; Central & Clock (Big Ben)
photo by
G. Wilson

Lion Guarding Westminster Bridge
photo by
G. Wilson

Celtic Warrior Boudicea at Westminster Bridge
by Sir Hamo Thornycroft
photo by
G. Wilson

London Eye
photo by
G.Wilson

The Eye can carry 800 passengers per revolution. Its height is 135 m. making it the 4th tallest structure in London.

Exiting the Eye
photo by
G.Wilson

London Eye Sees All - Overlooking the great city
photo by
G.Wilson

Westminster, Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges
photo by
G.Wilson

Another Eye full of London
photo by
G. Wilson

Westminster Abbey Side Entrance
photo by
G. Wilson

Westminster Abbey is a breathtaking building, its stunning stained glass is glorious.

The scene of coronations since 1066, Charles II set out for Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1661 to be crowned. He was to be relentless in his pursuit of any who played any part in the decapitation of his father, Charles I

Charles II by John Michael Wright
c1661-66.

Samuel Pepys, "the right hand of the navy".

Samuel Pepys, a patriotic patron of kings and queens, rose at four a.m. to squeeze his way into the abbey. There he saw: ,"the abbey raised in the middle, all covered with red and a throne (that is a chair) and footstool on the top of it; and all the officers of all kinds, so much as the very fidlers in red vests." Charles was restored with not a single condition imposed by Parliament. The flame of revolution had truly been snuffed out.

Its RAF Chapel is the site of the original grave of Oliver Cromwell, now marked by a stone tablet which is usually covered by a carpet.

Westminster Abbey
photo by
G. Wilson

Madonna on door of Westminster Abbey
photo by
G. Wilson

St. Margaret's Church
photo by
G.Wilson

In early 1588, Drake moved his flag from Elizabeth Bonaventura to the Revenge, which was considered to be the best by far of the new ships. On July 29, 1588 the Battle of Gravelines (named after a Flemish town near Calais), was concluded as one of the fiercest and most decisive battles engaged in during these years. At the outset of the conflict, Revenge proved worthy of her reputation. Following Revenge at the head of the line, the English fleet engaged their broadsides into the Spanish Armada. Many Spanish vessels were severely damaged, although only a few sank or ran aground. However, it was only when fireships were sent in that the Spanish broke their formation and sailed into the North Sea. The English fleet monitored them until they drew level with Edinburgh, and then returned to port.


Atwood Plaque in St. Margaret's Church
photo by
G. Wilson

Altar of St. Margaret's Church
photo by
G. Wilson


Sir Walter
photo by
G. Wilson

Within the Chancel of this Church was buried
the body of the
Great Sir Walter Raleigh, Kt.
on the day he was beheaded
In old Palace Yard. Westminster
October 29 Anno Dom 1618

The swashbuckler, Sir Walter, whom Queen Elizabeth nicknamed, "Water," was sent to the tower for marrying one of her ladies-in-waiting Bess Throckmorton. He was later released. After Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, Raleigh was again imprisoned in the Tower, this time allegedly for being involved in the Main Plot against King James I, who subsequenly found little to like in this national hero. In 1616 Walter was called upon to conduct a second expedition in search of El Dorado. The search was unsuccessful

Raleigh's men then proceeded to do what he had been warned not to do: ran amoke and ransacked a Spanish outpost. On Raleigh's return to England, the outraged Spanish ambassador howled for his head. Failing to flee to France, Raleigh was again sent to the Tower. King James ordered him executed under the original sentence of treason passed many years before. Raleigh's final words were: "Strike, man, strike!"

When discussion took place regarding a home for parliament after the fire in the old Palace of Westminster, King William IV offered the almost-completed Buckingham Palace to Parliament, hoping to dispose of a residence he disliked. The building was considered unsuitable for parliamentary use, however, and the gift was rejected. It became the offical residence of the monarch in 1837, when the newly-crowned Victoria became queen.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace
photo by
G. Wilson

Front Gate to Buckingham Palace
photo by
B. Wilson

Entrance to Buckingham Palace facing Victoria Memorial and the Mall
photo by
G. Wilson

Victoria Memorial by Thomas Brock for which he received 100,000 pounds.
photo by
G. Wilson

Unveiled in 16 May, 1911 by King Geoge V, its design is a complex allegory. Its marble base with its ship's prow symbolizes British sea power. The two figures with their attendants represent, Truth winged and holding a mirror and Justice winged and holding a sword. Motherhood faces the palace. Over all are gilded Courage, Constancy and the Winged Victory.

[*] The London blew up and sank in 1665, one of England's greatest maritime disasters. According to Samuel Pepys, more than 300 people lost their lives when the 64-gun warship suddenly exploded and sank four miles southwest of Southend. For some reason, its gunpowder magazine detonated. The large number aboard were present at a party hosted by the ship's officers the night before. There were just 24 survivors and the two bodies recovered are of women.

Warship London

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