Thorney Tales (5) - Westminster Hall Roof
Visit to new Parliamentary Education Centre, 28th October 2015
Discovering Parliament through virtual reality
Construction of the new Education Centre for Parliament has proved controversial for some Thorney Island members. This was partly because it encroached on rare green space in Victoria Tower Gardens and partly because it was difficult to believe that a new building costing £7 million was going to be "temporary" for just 10 years as claimed.
At the end of October we visited it and were very impressed with the facilities provided to enlighten school children of primary and secondary age about the history of our parliamentary democracy. A series of rooms mimicing the look of the House of Commons and Lords utilise augmented reality techniques to explain over a thousand years of history at rapid speed to 100,000 of today's techno savvy kids every year.
Thorney Tales (4) - The tomb behind one of Britain's biggest fortunes
St Margaret's churchyard is not short of famous dead bodies, being the resting place of
William Caxton, Sir Walter Raleigh, Wenceslaus Hollar, the brilliant engraver of London,
and the largest number of regicides you'll find anywhere. But there is only one tomb
Close to the road between St Margaret's church and Parliament Square, it is regularly ignored by passers by but is the source of one of the wealthiest families the country has ever known.
Visit to the RHS Lindley Library, 14th July 2015
Queen's Walk Cycle Route, The Green Park
We were asked by the Royal Parks to comment on a proposal by Transport for London (TfL), as part of the Quietways Programme of the Central London Cycle Grid, to create a cycle path between Lancaster House and Picadilly. One of the possible routes would be on the much-used Queen’s Walk, along the eastern boundary of The Green Park. They also asked us to comment on their proposal to alter the ‘alignment of the paths in the south east corner of The Green Park, between the Canada Memorial and Queen’s Walk, in order to address the problem of informal desire lines / paths that are created by pedestrians using this area of the Park’.
Thorney Tales (3) - The Jewel Tower
Visit to Bridgewater House
Walking through the front door of Bridgewater House overlooking The Green Park, you are almost blown over by what you see. Instead of a hallway to a private residence you are immediately propelled into the Great Saloon designed by Charles Barry as part of a reconstruction and looking like the forum of Barry's Reform Club only it is even bigger. Standing on the million pound carpet and looking skywards towards the glass roof your eye is caught by a ring of domes, half of which turn out to be mirror images.
At one end of the ground floor is a set of murals by Jakob Götzenberger depicting scenes from the masque Comus which was actually commisioned from John Milton (who lived for part of his life on the other side of St James' Park in Petty France) by a former owner of the house and depicts the Earl of Bridgewater talking to
Milton. Bridgewater was an ancestor of Lord Ellesmere who orchestrated the present reconstruction in the 1840s and to make sure posterity did not forget, he left dozens of his initials at strategic points throughout the house.
The famous gallery with works by Titian, da Vinci, Raphael, Rembrandt and others is no longer there having been converted into offices but we were able to get a glimpse of its former glory by seeing the pillars at either end, one section of which has been converted into a small chapel.
Thorney Tales (1) - Britain's Hidden Treasure Trove
What was it about this tiny stretch of land called Thorney Island, measuring barely 560m by 330m - that has had such an effect on the English-speaking world? If it had merely given birth to Westminster Abbey, where so many kings and queens of England were crowned and buried in competitive splendour it would have earned its place in history. But it also became the seat of government, and for over 500 years a palace for kings and queens.