One of the joys of Thorney Island membership is visiting places normally inaccessible.  Especially on Thorney Island !   We were all amazed when shown the main medieval remains within Parliament that somehow escaped the great fire of 1834.  Most of us thought we were familiar with the Great Hall which was spared destruction by a sudden change of wind, only to be told by Dr Mark Collins, the Estates Archivist & Historian, that the inner wall was an addition and that to see parts of the six-foot thick original wall we had to look opposite the gift shop where there is a long arched wall built of stone from Reigate in Surrey and Caen in Normandy complete with the signature marks of some of the masons. Richard II was responsible for the rebuilding of Westminster Hall complete with the dazzling hammer beam roof made from English oak brought by river. In one of the ironies of history, Richard was deposed before reconstruction of the building was completed after a trial - in his own Westminster Hall. 
Another magnificent survivor of the fire was the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft (completed by Edward III in 1298) which is normally closed to the public.  Called an undercroft because it is situated underneath the rebuilt St Stephen's Chapel through which visitors walk to the central lobby of the Commons but it is not really one because it is at ground level and has windows on both sides. It is a mesmerising example of Victorianised Gothic and will look even better when a proposed revamp is implemented.
We were then treated to something hardly any of us even knew existed: a cloister around which the monks used to walk and pray whose vaulted ceilings are now occupied by staff of the Labour Party and Government whips. In the quadrangle of the cloister, shut off from everything around you, it is difficult to believe you are right in the centre of London.  We thanked Dr Collins and his colleague, Tessa Blundy, deputy head of Architecture and Heritage, for this rare opportunity to visit three of only four major remains of the medieval palace. The fourth, the Jewel Tower, on the other side of the road near the Abbey, was outside the range of the fire. Which is just as well because the Domesday Book was one of the treasures housed there.