Our visit to Westminster School proved so popular we had to split it into two. There was so much to see, such as the huge hall, known simply as 'School' which was once the monk’s dormitory and Headmaster Dr Busby's Library.  The highlight though was Ashburnham House, a building teeming with history. Once the London home of the Earls of Ashburnham, it was acquired by the school in 1882. 

You get a hint of its past as you go through the front door and see a picture of Elizabeth I, a patron of the school, on the wall. This is a copy but the original is in the Headmasters study – so pupils would have to commit serious misdemeanours to see it. These days Ashburnham houses activities like IT and mathematics but it once contained the unique Cotton Library built up by the redoubtable Sir Robert Cotton from books he rescued from monasteries after the Dissolution. Some were lost during a fire here in 1731 but three quarters were rescued and became the basis of today’s British Library. 

But the gem of the place is the small garden where you can still see the original wall of the monk’s refectory which has a strong claim to be the origin of Parliament because it was the site of some of the earliest meetings of what became the House of Commons. The lawn would have been the floor of the refectory. The building on the left, somewhat bizarrely houses several Fives courts of recent origin. We are most grateful to Elizabeth Wells, Archivist of the school for giving us a fascinating tour. 
The wall of the monastic refectory - the origin of Parliament