A Visit To The Houses Of Parliament
P. Woolford
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On Wednesday, March 14th, the fifth and sixth forms, accompanied by Fr. Dominic and Fr. Stephen, were taken on a short conducted tour of the Houses of Parliament by Mr. Mellish, the Labour member from Bermondsey and an ardent Catholic.

Arriving in Parliament Square at 10.30 a.m. we met Mr. Mellish, and after a brief introduction started our tour. We began in the oldest building the Great Hall (c.1200 A.D.) which has been a Royal banqueting room, the chamber in which Parliament met and a High Court, but is not now in use.

Passing through the seemingly endless corridors to reach the House of Lords, we saw, en route, the members verandah overlooking the Thames, and in a frame on one of the walls, the signed death warrant of Charles II.

At last we arrived at the Lords end of the building. To reach the House of Lords, we had to pass through an ante chamber, decorated in the prevalent colour of this end of the building red. Around the walls of this room were hung four pictures, representing the four great points of British Justice humility; mercy; fortitude and justice.

In the House itself was the Royal Throne at the Eastern end, with the members benches again in red leather, lining both sides of the chamber. Hanging from the ceiling were innumerable microphones, to enable all present to hear what was being said when the House was in session.

In the centre, on the floor, stood a solid wooden tablet upon which were boxes where speakers from the front benches put their notes when speaking. By far the most interesting part of the Lords for most of us, was the dock at the Western end, from which a prisoner whose petition for his case to be heard in front of the Lords has been granted, makes his plea and states his case.

Leaving the Lords and passing through more corridors, hung with pictures illustrating memorable events in British History, we arrived at last in the House of Commons.

At the door leading into the Commons, Mr. Mellish stopped and showed us the marks left by the knuckles of Black Rod. He is a messenger from the Lords to the Commons and by ancient custom he is not allowed to enter the Commons until he has obtained permission from the Speaker of the House.

In this end of the Houses of Parliament, the prevalent colour is green indicating the strong hold which Anglicanism held over the House during the Reformation. Although by now most of us had grown weary of walking about, we were not allowed to sit on the Members benches, and to see that we did not a police sergeant was standing by. To finish the tour off we were conducted round St. Stephen's Crypt, where Mr. Mellish pointed out the beautiful sculpture of the roof and explained the meaning of the statuettes.

On behalf of Fr. Dominic, Fr. Stephen and the whole party I would like to thank Mr. Mellish for devoting his valuable time to giving us a very interesting and enjoyable morning.

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