Project Blog

Welcome to the project blog! Here you will find short articles created by members of the project team detailing new research, elements of the technical development process and our participation at conferences and events.

Charles Abbot, 1st Baron Colchester 1757-1829. Engraving by Charles Picart after Sir Joshua Reynolds. Yale Centre for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Friday 4th February 2022 | Murray Tremellen

During his fifteen-year Speakership, Charles Abbot carried out important reforms to parliamentary administration. He also transformed the physical infrastructure of the Palace of Westminster by commissioning a major rebuild of the Speaker's House. This post gives a brief introduction to his career.

Fig 1. David Boswell Reid, ‘Sketch shewing one of the places which interfered most severely with the ventilation of the Temporary Houses of Parliament’, August 1846, © The National Archives, WORK 11/12, f. 204
Friday 7th January 2022 | Murray Tremellen

The history of St Stephen's Chapel didn't end with the fire of 1834. Its undercroft survived to be incorporated into the new Palace of Westminster, but it first had to endure more than thirty years at the centre of London's biggest building site. Elizabeth Hallam Smith reveals her latest discoveries about this fascinating phase in the Palace's history.

Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth 1757-1844. Oil painting by Thomas Philips after John Singleton Copley. © Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA 2718.
Tuesday 4th May 2021 | Murray Tremellen

It was Speaker Henry Addington who took over the former St Stephen's College buildings in 1794 and turned them into an official residence for the Speaker of the House of Commons. This post gives a brief introduction to this important but neglected statesman.

Thursday 8th April 2021 | Kirsty Wright

The offices of the Exchequer of Receipt within the Palace of Westminster were a hive of administrative activity but they also provided social space. The Lord Treasurer's suite of rooms doubled as a dining room, frequented by Exchequer officials for meals provided on the Exchequer's dime. This post examines where the officers ate, what was on the menu and the place of these meals within the administrative routine of the Exchequer. 

The former oratory chapel in the lower cloisters, photographed in July 1897. © Parliamentary Archives, HC/LB/1/111/5/9.
Wednesday 3rd March 2021 | Murray Tremellen

What was it like to be a servant at the Speaker's House? In this post, we examine the extraordinary 'below stairs' rooms in which the Speakers' domestic servants lived and worked.

Monday 1st February 2021 | Kirsty Wright

In early modern England outbreaks of infectious disease were a part of life. Plague, influenza and the mysterious sweating sickness broke out in varying degrees of severity throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has naturally garnered interest in past epidemics and brought the realities of living with infectious disease into sharp relief.

View of Westminster Hall, Law Courts &c From the North West. Coloured lithograph by Samuel Burton after C. Russell. © Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA 1420
Wednesday 13th January 2021 | Murray Tremellen

Recent events in the USA have shown that the stylistic debate around public buildings remains highly contentious. In this post, we explore the decades-long struggle between advocates of Classical and Gothic architecture to decide the style of the Palace of Westminster.

Wednesday 9th December 2020 | Kirsty Wright

The Bartlett and European Institute at UCL's Parliament Buildings conference was held online last month, bringing together architects, political scientists, historians and anthropologists united by a common interest in the relationship between parliament buildings and political culture. The second half of the conference will take place on 18-19 February 2021 where we will be presenting our research on the Auditor and Speaker’s House at St Stephen’s.

Monday 9th November 2020 | Kirsty Wright

How do you research a building like St Stephen’s Chapel?  Where would you have found Yorkshire kerseys and Padua serge in the old House of Commons?  In this post, former St Stephen’s Chapel project assistant Simon Neal discusses the manuscript evidence underpinning our research on the medieval royal Chapel and pre-1834 Commons chamber, and some of the stories of places and people at Westminster that it has enabled us to tell.

The Speaker's House Westminster, River front, Monochrome line engraving By W. Radclyffe after original by John Preston Neale, © Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA 1913
Monday 26th October 2020 | Murray Tremellen

Between 1794 and 1834, the Speaker of the House of Commons took over most of the former buildings of St Stephen's College and remodelled them to create a lavish official residence. However, after the infamous fire which destroyed most of the old Palace of Westminster, the Speaker's 'palace within a Palace' was swept away. In this post, we introduce this almost-forgotten building and explain why we are now trying to rescue it from the depths of obscurity.