Pupils visit the Houses of Parliament
Year 11 pupil and media team senior reporter, Caitlyn Palmer, wrote: “I will admit that not long ago, I had virtually no idea what Parliament was like, and barely understood politics.
“After being invited down to Parliament in July, I realised just how amazing it is, and began to take an interest in politics. Therefore, when I was offered the chance to visit it again, I jumped at the chance.
“After travelling on train and tube, we arrived at the Houses of Parliament, all wondering what would be waiting inside for us.
“Despite the fact I had been before, my breath was still taken away when I walked through the doors: high ceilings, gold accents, detailed paintings, gothic architecture – the Palace is like nothing else.
“Our tour guide took us through the building, starting at the south end; in fact, we entered the main building through the same door the Queen uses every time she visits Parliament for the state opening.
“We then continued into Queen’s Robing Room, a highly decorated room with shining gold wherever you looked.
“At one end of the room was a throne made for Queen Victoria – worn from a lot of use – that she would sit in whilst getting ready.
“The back of the chair features the initials ‘VR’ (Victoria Regina), something that features predominantly across the building; after all, it was rebuilt during her reign.
“The architect, Charles Barry, featured many royals in the building; for example, alongside all of the ‘VR’ insignias, there are statues of iconic figures such as Queen Victoria, and a variety of paintings of monarchs from throughout British history.
“After the Robing Room, we went through to the Royal Gallery; large paintings cover the walls, tiny details making up huge scenes.
“From there, we went through the Prince’s Room, featuring portraits of monarchs such as Henry VIII and his wives, to get to the House of Lords; microphones hang from the ceiling, seeming to be out of place with the grandeur of the room. At one end, a huge throne seems to take up an entire wall, with the gold surround glowing across the room.
“We went through many other rooms – unfortunately not the House of Commons, as Prime Minister’s questions was going on as we had our tour.
“Throughout the tour, our guide was pointing out details – such as the mosaics in the Central Lobby, which each feature a patron saint – and telling us the history of Parliament, from the Magna Carta, to Charles I, to Parliament’s fire in 1834.
“We ended our tour in Westminster Hall, the only original part of Parliament left, before heading back to the Education Centre.
“Here, we took part in a workshop that taught us about the two ways that votes can be counted. We were split into three fake political parties, and through activities learnt more about the ways votes can be counted, and the pros and cons of each.
“After this, Baroness Elizabeth Berridge came to speak to us; she went to Catmose College, and made us all realise that really, anyone can end up as a member of the House of Lords.
“She told us about the House of Lords and what you do as a Lord or Baroness, and then answered any questions we had.
“Unfortunately, after eating our lunch, we had to end our trip; heading back to the train station in the rain, we were all still chatting about what we had seen during our visit to Parliament.
“Even after visiting it for the second time, I am still just as interested in Parliament and politics, and would visit the Palace over and over again if I could.
“I would like to thank all of the staff and students who went on the trip for making it so enjoyable, and those at the Houses of Parliament who were involved in the visit; hopefully trips like these will keep the next generation interested in politics, and involved with those who are leading our country.”