Monday, May 18, 2015

Saturday: Parliament and Westminster Abbey

Saturday was probably the "prettiest" day of our visit so far. The buildings were pretty, the tour guide was pretty, and the weather was pretty!!

Our first stop was Parliament. We toured Parliament and saw all of the chambers of the members of Parliament. Our tour guide, who was QUITE lovely, explained the difference between the two houses. I will try to shorten and explain what I understand.

The first "house" we visited was the "House of Lords." This house is not elected. All of the members are bloodline. So basically, you are "born" into the House of Lords. This is the house that dates way back into the early 15th century. They made all of the decisions when Parliament was first formed. They are "led" by Her Majesty the Queen. The Sovereign is the head of the House of Lords. However, she hardly ever sits in on sessions, so other party leaders oversee the House of Lords. Everything involving the House of Lords is red. The room is red, the seats are red, the art is red. Red is the color for the House of Lords. It somehow (I must have missed that part while oogling the tour guide) represents royalty.

The other house is the House of Commons. This is the elected branch of the government. They elect their representatives just like we do. The leader of the House of Common is the Prime Minister, David Cameron. This house was formed because the "common people" wanted a say in the goverment. This house truly embodies the idea of "governed by the people." They have different parties, just like the US. Everything involving the House of Commons was green. They picked green because it was the cheapest color to dye things back in the day - another embodiment of the common people.

Our guide explained how both houses work together and how they vote. That entire conversation would take another blog, so I shall just leave you with the differences between the houses.
The second part of our day was spent at Wesminster Abbey. First off, I cannot even explain how beautiful the building is. It was built way back in the 1500's (I believe) and it looks like it hasn't changed much since then. The abbey is a common place of ceremony and worship. They hold regular services, just like many other Catholic churches in the area. The Abbey also has numerous memorials. There are several kings and queens buried right in the abbey. They are all marked and commemorated. Other royals have little shrines in the abbey. One corner is dedicated completely to poets and writers. William Shakespeare has a memorial. Charles Dickens, Browning, and Jefferey Chaucer are also commemorated in the corner. Westminster Abbey is also where all of the coronations and royal weddings occur. William and Kate were married in Westminster Abbey. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was crowned in the Abbey. ALSO, one of the corridors was used for scenes from Harry Potter (who knew!)

Wesmister Abbey is well known and has been used for centuries for sacred ceremonies. Everything is breathtakingly beautiful inside the building. I think the memorials and commemorations in the building are just a reminder of the rich history of England. They have faced heartache. Monarchs have fought with other monarchs, and some of them lost BADLY. The memorials are reminders of how far the Brits have come and they are hopeful for the future of the country.

This is a picture of our group from earlier in the week in front of Parliament.

This is a picture I took of Westminster Abbey. It looks like Notre Dame to me....

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