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18 September 2014
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Church and State

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Lords' Chamber

The gold leaf of the throne and canopy (a) was Pugin's masterpiece. The large expanse of gilding dazzles the eyes, while daylight pours in through vast arched windows and intricately carved creatures of wood or gold (b and c) provide delightful surprises. With its frescoes (d) and hushed silence, the Lords chamber has the air more of a solemn chapel than a debating chamber.

The red woolsack - which, one suspects, is more comfortable to sit on than it sounds - is a seat literally stuffed with wool which came from various Commonwealth countries.

The four rows of red benches on the right of the House are for government supporters and bishops - known as the spiritual side. Opposition peers sit on the left, known as the temporal side. Non-party peers sit on the crossbenches.

The House of Lords has existed as a separate chamber from the Commons since the 14th Century. It is the highest court of the land, when law lords sit as the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary.

The Lord Chancellor is head of the judiciary as well as the peers' equivalent of the Commons' Speaker.

Principal floor plan
Click on the map above or room names on the right. Click thumbnails to view larger images
  1. Victoria Tower
  2. Queen's Robing Room
  3. Royal Gallery
  4. Prince's Chamber
  5. Lords' Chamber
  6. Central Lobby
  7. Commons' Lobby
  8. Commons' Chamber
  9. Noes Lobby
  10. St Stephen's Chapel
  11. Westminster Hall
Church and State trail
Church Architecture
Before the Reformation
Early Palace of Westminster
Shaping the Modern Church
Later Palace of Westminster

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