You are on page 1of 7

Architecture and Art in British Culture

Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, in London, is where the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet. The palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the London borough of the City of Westminster, close to the government buildings of Whitehall.

The palace contains around 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases and 3 miles (5 km) of corridors. Although the building mainly dates from the 19th century, remaining elements of the original historic buildings include Westminster Hall, used today for major public ceremonial events such as lyings in state, and the Jewel Tower. Control of the Palace of Westminster and its precincts was for centuries exercised by the Queen's representative, the Lord Great Chamberlain. By agreement with the Crown, control passed to the two Houses in 1965. Certain ceremonial rooms continue to be controlled by the Lord Great Chamberlain. After a fire in 1834, the present Houses of Parliament were built over the next 30 years. In 1836, after studying 97 rival proposals, the Royal Commission chose Charles Barry's plan for a Gothic-style palace. The foundation stone was laid in 1840; the Lords Chamber was completed in 1847, and the Commons Chamber in 1852 (at which point Barry received a knighthood). Although most of the work had been carried out by 1860, construction was not finished until a decade afterwards. Barry (whose own architectural style was more classical than Gothic) relied heavily on Augustus Pugin for the sumptuous and distinctive Gothic interiors, including wallpapers, carvings, stained glass and furnishings, like the royal thrones and canopies.

Exterior
Notice regarding a strike of stonemasons during the reconstruction of the Palace. (Click on the image to enlarge and read.)

Sir Charles Barry's collaborative design for the Palace of Westminster uses the Perpendicular Gothic style, which was popular during the 15th century and returned during the Gothic revival of the 19th century. Barry was a classical architect, but he was aided by the Gothic architect Augustus Pugin. Westminster Hall, which was built in the 11th century and survived the fire of 1834, was incorporated in Barry's design. Pugin was displeased with the result of the work, especially with the symmetrical layout designed by Barry; he famously remarked, "All Grecian, sir; Tudor details on a classic body".
Stonework

The stonework of the building was originally Anston, a sand-coloured magnesian limestone quarried in the village of Anston in South Yorkshire. The stone, however, soon began to decay due to pollution and the poor quality of some of the stone used. Although such defects were clear as early as 1849, nothing was done for the remainder of the 19th century. During the 1910s, however, it became clear that some of the stonework had to be replaced. In 1928 it was deemed necessary to use Clipsham Stone, a honey-coloured limestone from Rutland, to replace the decayed Anston. The project began in the 1930s but was halted due to the Second World War, and completed only during the 1950s. By the 1960s pollution had once again begun to take its toll. A stone conservation and restoration programme to the external elevations and towers began in 1981, and ended in 1994. The House Authorities have since been undertaking the external restoration of the many inner courtyards, a task due to continue until approximately 2010.

Towers
Sir Charles Barry's Palace of Westminster includes several towers. The tallest is the 98.5-metre (323 ft) Victoria Tower, a square tower at the south-western end of the Palace. It was named after the reigning monarch at the time of the reconstruction of the Palace, Queen Victoria; today, it is home to the Parliamentary Archives. Atop the Victoria Tower is an iron flagstaff, from which either the Royal Standard (if the Sovereign is present in the Palace) or the Union Flag is flown. At the base of the tower is the Sovereign's Entrance to the Palace, used by the monarch whenever entering the Palace of Westminster for the State Opening of Parliament or for any other official ceremony.

Palace of Westminster as seen from the London Eye; Victoria Tower is on the left and Clock Tower on the right side Over the middle of the Palace, immediately above the Central Lobby, stands the octagonal Central Tower. It is 91.4 metres (300 ft) tall, making it the shortest of the three principal towers of the Palace. Unlike the other towers, the Central Tower possesses a spire, and was designed as a high-level air intake. At the north-eastern end of the Palace is the most famous of the towers, the Clock Tower, commonly known as Big Ben after its main bell. The Clock Tower is 96.3 metres (316 ft) tall. Pugin's drawings for the tower were the last work he did for Barry. The Clock Tower houses a large, four-faced clockthe Great Clock of Westminsteralso designed by Pugin. The tower also houses five bells, which strike the Westminster Chimes every quarter hour. The largest and most famous of the bells is Big Ben (officially The Great Bell of Westminster), which strikes the hour. This is the third-heaviest bell in England, weighing 13.8 tonnes (13.6 long tons). Although Big Ben properly refers only to the bell, it is colloquially applied to the whole tower. A small tower, St Stephen's Tower, is positioned at the front of the Palace, between Westminster Hall and Old Palace Yard, and contains the main entrance to the House of Commons at its base, known as St Stephen's Entrance. Other towers include Speaker's and Chancellor's Towers, at the north and south ends of the building's river front respectively.[13] They are named after the presiding officers of the two Houses of Parliament at the time of the Palace's reconstruction, the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord High Chancellor. Grounds There are a number of small gardens surrounding the Palace of Westminster. Victoria Tower Gardens is open as a public park along the side of the river south of the palace. Black Rod's Garden (named after the office of Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod) is closed to the public and is used as a private entrance. Old Palace Yard, in front of the Palace, is paved over and covered in concrete security blocks Cromwell Green (also on the frontage, and in 2006 enclosed by hoardings for the construction of a new visitor centre), New Palace Yard (on the north side) and Speaker's Green (directly north of the Palace) are all private and closed to the public. College Green, opposite the House of Lords, is a small triangular green commonly used for television interviews with politicians.

The Great Exhibition


The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations or Great Exhibition, sometimes referred to as the Crystal Palace Exhibition in reference to the temporary structure in which it was held, was an international exhibition that took place in Hyde Park, London, England, from 1 May to 15 October 1851. It was the first in a series of World's Fair exhibitions of culture and industry that were to become a popular 19th century feature. The Great Exhibition was organised by Henry Cole and Prince Albert of Saxe-

Coburg and Gotha, the spouse of the reigning monarch, Victoria. It was attended by numerous notable figures of the time, including Charles Darwin, members of the former French Royal Family and the writers Charlotte Bront and George Eliot.

Background
The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations was organized by Prince Albert, Henry Cole, Francis Henry, Charles Dilke and other members of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce as a celebration of modern industrial technology and design. It can be argued that the Great Exhibition was mounted in response to the highly successful French Industrial Exposition of 1844. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort, was an enthusiastic promoter of a self-financing exhibition; the government was persuaded to form the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to establish the viability of hosting such an exhibition. Queen Victoria and her family visited 3 times.

A special building, nicknamed The Crystal Palace, was designed by Joseph Paxton (with support from structural engineer Charles Fox) to house the show; an architecturally adventurous building based on Paxton's experience designing greenhouses for the sixth Duke of Devonshire, constructed from cast iron-frame components and glass made almost exclusively in Birmingham and Smethwick, which was an enormous success. The committee overseeing its construction included Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The massive glass house was 1848 feet (about 563 metres) long by 454 feet (about 138 metres) wide, and went from its initial plans of organisation to its grand opening in just nine months. The building was later moved and re-erected in an enlarged form at Sydenham in south London, an area that was renamed Crystal Palace; it was eventually destroyed by fire on November 30th 1936. Six million people equivalent to a third of the entire population of Britain at the time visited the Exhibition. The Great Exhibition made a surplus of 186,000 which was used to found the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum which were all built in the area to the south of the exhibition, nicknamed "Albertopolis", alongside the Imperial Institute. The remaining surplus was used to set up an educational trust to provide grants and scholarships for industrial research, and continues to do so today.

The exhibition caused controversy at the time. Some conservatives feared that the mass of visitors might become a revolutionary mob, whilst radicals such as Karl Marx saw the exhibition as an emblem of the capitalist fetishism of commodities. In modern times the Great Exhibition has become a symbol of the Victorian Age, and its thick catalogue illustrated with steel engravings is a primary source for High Victorian design.

Admission fees
Admission prices to the Crystal Palace varied according to the date of visitation, with ticket prices decreasing as the parliamentary season drew to an end and London traditionally emptied of wealthy individuals. Prices varied from 3 guineas per day, 1 per day, five shillings per day, down to one shilling per day. The one shilling ticket proved most successful amongst the industrial classes, with four and a half million shillings being taken from attendees in this manner.

Sir John Everett Millais


Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, PRA (8 June 1829 13 August 1896) was an English painter and illustrator and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Early life
Millais (pronounced Mih-lay) was born in Southampton, England in 1829, of a prominent Jersey-based family. His prodigious artistic talent won him a place at the Royal Academy schools at the still unprecedented age of eleven. While there, he met William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti with whom he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (known as the "PRB") in September 1848 in his family home on Gower Street, off Bedford Square.

[edit] Pre-Raphaelite works


Millais' Christ In The House Of His Parents (1850) was highly controversial because of its realistic portrayal of a working class Holy Family labouring in a messy carpentry workshop. Later works were also controversial, though less so. Millais achieved popular success with A Huguenot (1852), which depicts a young couple about to be separated because of religious conflicts. He repeated this theme in many later works. All these early works were painted with great attention to detail, often concentrating on the beauty and complexity of the natural world. In paintings such as Ophelia (1852) Millais created dense and elaborate pictorial surfaces based on the integration of naturalistic elements. This approach has been described as a kind of "pictorial eco-system". This style was promoted by the critic John Ruskin, who had defended the PreRaphaelites against their critics. Millais' friendship with Ruskin introduced him to Ruskin's wife Effie. Soon after they met she modelled for his painting The Order of Release. As Millais painted Effie they fell in love. Despite having been married to Ruskin for several years, Effie was still a virgin. Her parents realized something was wrong and she filed for an

annulment. In 1856, after her marriage to Ruskin was annulled, Effie and John Millais married. He and Effie eventually had eight children including John Guille Millais, a notable naturalist and wildlife artist.

Clothing in the victorian times


Methods of clothing production and distribution varied greatly over the course of Victoria's long reign. In 1837, cloth was manufactured in the mill towns of northern England, Scotland, and Ireland) but clothing was generally custom-made by seamstresses, milliners, tailors, hatters, glovers, corsetiers, and many other specialized tradespeople, who served a local clientele in small shops. Families who could not afford to patronize specialists, made their own clothing, or bought and modified used clothing. By 1907, clothing was increasingly factory-made and sold in large, fixed price department stores. Custom sewing and home sewing were still significant, but on the decline. New machinery and materials changed clothing in many ways. The introduction of the lock-stitch sewing machine in mid-century simplified both home and boutique dressmaking, and enabled a fashion for lavish application of trim that would have been prohibitively time-consuming if done by hand. Lace machinery made lace at a fraction of the cost of the old, laborious methods. New materials from far-flung British colonies gave rise to new types of clothing (such as rubber making gumboots and mackintoshes possible). Chemists developed new, cheap, bright dyes that displaced the old animal or vegetable dyes.

Overview of women's fashions, 1794-1887