We took our guests on a tour of the Palace of Westminster last month. It was our first ever visit to this world famous venue, made possible by lots of work behind the scenes on both sides. Two groups of guests from Jubilee lodge made their way down to Westminster for guided tours of the Palace in February.
The tour kicked off in the vast, impressive Westminster Hall, venue for many historic gatherings and speeches down the ages. Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill – you name them, they’ve given speeches here! More recently, many of you may remember that the Queen Mother lay in state in Westminster Hall on her passing in 2002.
Accompanied by a very knowledgeable guide, we then made our way around the vast labyrinthine inner recesses of the sprawling Palace. It was just like Hogwarts! Among the glorious sights to which we were treated were the Central Lobby (that’s where they do all the TV broadcasts from), the House of Commons (where the seats are green), the House of Lords (red seats here) and – most impressive of all – the sumptuous Queen’s Robing Room.
To put the icing on the cake – in this case literally – at the end of the tour the group enjoyed a delicious high tea overlooking the Thames in the Palace’s Terrace Pavilion, the traditional haunt of statesmen over the years and site of many a heated debate – and the occasional punch up!
You may remember we campaigned hard about accessibility all through 2014 and the Palace of Westminster clearly got the message, because they’ve worked wonders on their accessibility to make this tour possible. As one of our guests David Jones put it: “Our tour guide said parts of the Palace date back to the Middle Ages, so being able to get around so much of it is an incredible result.” Suffice to say the Palace got a resounding vote of confidence from our guests!
In fact, as result of our accessibility campaign, we were invited to endorse the Palace’s new accessibility video last year, presented by our friend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, a cross-bench Peer (that doesn’t mean she’s always cross, just that she’s not affiliated to any political party!). In our view this is proof positive that our voice really is making a difference. With your help we’ll keep up our work to make society more accessible for all.
There are loads more exciting new excursions and activities planned for all our centres all through the year and I’ll be sure to tell you all about them in future blogs – so watch this space!