Awe-inspiring

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THE first time I ever visited the Houses of Parliament I was going to see my dad in court in the House of Lords (back when it was England and Wales’s highest court and before the Supreme Court we have now).

I bought a pack of colouring pencils with teeny portcullises on before immediately leaving them in the chamber, causing a minor bomb scare.

There were men in long wigs (“daddy, why’s that man dressed as a spaniel?”), the place seemed mystical and ancient, and everything just felt as if I was part of something… well, big. The half day off school didn’t hurt either.

In short, I fell in love with parliament that day.

Fast forward 14 years and I was once again in the same building for my very first job interview for a researcher position, starting a career that lasted several years.

In that time I can genuinely say that however long the hours, however difficult the boss or however weird the work (and some of it was pretty weird), I never had a bad day in that extraordinary building.

From the very spot where the trial of Charles I took place (one for republicans) to the robing room where every monarch since Queen Victoria has donned the crown we see at the state opening of parliament, every corner of the Houses of Parliament is steeped in awe-inspiring history. They also serve some of the best sausage sandwiches around (in one of their approximately 57,000 cafes)

Yes, parliament really is one of the most remarkable buildings in the world.

And better still, it’s all ours.

House of Commons debates are open to members of the public for free and you don’t even need tickets for most of them in advance. You can also book tours.

If you still have UK voting rights and write to your MP they may even invite you for tea on the terrace.

So whenever you’re next in the UK, please go. You’re unlikely to regret it.

Oh and if you do visit, enjoy a sausage sandwich for me.


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Written by

Sally Underwood

Sally Underwood is a former aide to several former cabinet members and now contributes her views on Parliament’s ever-changing shape in her column for the Euro Weekly News.

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