On Friday 11 October, a coach filled with Year 12 and 13 students left St Peters’ School at 6.45am on a lengthy journey towards the centre of London. The aim was to make it around the Houses of Parliament, eat a decent packed lunch, and have a look around the Supreme Court, before heading back home around 3pm. We had been warned by Mrs Hedges that the Extinction Rebellion were protesting in Trafalgar square and around Parliament, resulting in large amounts of police and barricades in the area we were travelling to. However, this didn’t seem to be problem as we only spotted four Extinction Rebellion protesters throughout the day – all of whom were lovely.
We started our tour in St Stephen’s Hall, which houses statues of nobles and royals of the past. On one of the figures there is a fake sword at his side, as someone had pulled the original off. This is also the scene in which a suffragette chained herself to the statue of Lucius Cary, 2ndviscount Falkland, in 1909. Having chained herself to the Viscount’s spur, when police cut her free with powerful shears two spikes from said spur were snapped off. After a whistle stop tour of the House of Commons, (which appears much smaller than it does on the news, however still just a majestic as previously thought), we headed to Westminster Hall for a short while. The trip occurred at a strange time in British politics, as Boris Johnson had called for Parliament to be prorogued for a second time within the last month, meaning that a queens speech was due in a few days. Consequently, we were unable to enter the House of Lords as it was being prepared for Queen Elizabeth II’s arrival. One of our favourite parts of Parliament was the ‘New Dawn’ sculpture, created by Mary Branson using metal and illuminated glass and positioned above the entranceway to St Stephen’s Hall. The piece was created to commemorate the long campaign which led to some women gaining the vote in 1918, and all women in 1928. The colours and lighting of the piece change depending on the tidal level of the River Thames.
Our last stop of the day was the Supreme Court, which we only had limited time to explore due to increased levels of security upon entry. Despite the short amount of time, we were able to witness one court session in action through the glass door, and we all had the opportunity to sit within an unused court room. The idea that the very room we were in held so much power in people’s lives was unbelievable; it is something we will remember for quite a long time.
Student Reporters: Ashton O’Dell & Molly Gibbs, Year 12