Independent Schools Cultural Alliance - ISCA – Summer Programs in the UK

The Houses of Parliament – Day 6

Greeted by uncharacteristically warm English weather, today we ventured into Parliament and Covent Garden. London packed streets were waiting for us!

The heart of the British government welcomed us and all of our students where eager to hear all about such an important place. The Houses of Parliament, or the Palace of Westminster to use the formal name, was rebuilt in 1840 to give the amazing and instantly recognizable vista that we see today. However Westminster Hall dates to 1097 and was the place where Charles I was tried and sentenced to death in 1649. So there is nearly 1000 years of history and governance invested in this building. Henry VIII was the last king that actually lived in the House of Parliament.

The richness provided by a unique blend of a monarchy and democracy, our pupils got to visit the House of Lords where the Queen officially opens Parliament each year during The State Opening of Parliament in May. This is where the Queen lays out the government’s agenda for the coming year and officially starts the Parliamentary year reading a speech written by the House of Commons.This is in fact the only government room the Monarchy is allowed in at the House of Parliament, a tradition dating back to the Civil Wars in the 17th Century. During this ceremony the Queen’s official messenger, the House of Lords official, ‘Black Rod’, will attempt to enter the Commons before having the doors slammed shut in his face (can you imagine that?) He will then strike the door three times, before the doors are opened and the government of the day leave the Commons and make their way into the House of Lords to listen to HM The Queen’s speech.

How lucky are we to be able to visit such an iconic place three days after Theresa May became the new Prime Minister; she is the second female Prime Minister the UK has seen.

Carry on with our day after a quick walk, we got to a magical shopping area where all the theatres are located: Convent Garden, one of the most popular tourist destinations in London.
However, perhaps what Covent Garden is best known for are the many and varied street performers that take to the Square every day. Whether it is a flying Yoda, the golden statue, a cycling fire- eating performer on stilts or even some street magic!
Although not a lot of people know this but Convent Garden was originally associated with the former fruit-and-vegetable market in the central square.

House of Parliament showed our students a different government constitution and they got to improve their knowledge about it, developing their critical thinking.

What a gorgeous day to be up and around London!