LONDON - Westminster


 Big Ben London
 - Big Ben est le surnom de la grande cloche de 13,5 tonnes installée dans la Tour de l'Horloge (Clock Tower) du Palais de Westminster, le siège du parlement britannique (Houses of Parliament), à Londres. L’angle nord-ouest supporte la plus célèbre des tours du palais de Westminster, la tour de l’Horloge (Clock Tower) ou tour Saint Étienne (St. Stephen's Tower), haute de 96,3 mètres. Comme son nom l’indique, la tour abrite la grande horloge de Westminster (Great Clock of Westminster), qui possède un cadran sur chacun des quatre côtés.
La tour de l’Horloge contient également les cinq cloches du palais, qui sonnent tous les quarts d’heure. La plus grande et la plus célèbre de ces cloches, officiellement appelée la grande cloche de Westminster, est bien davantage connue sous son surnom de Big Ben. Il s’agit de la troisième cloche la plus lourde de tout le Royaume-Uni, avec un poids d’environ 13,8 tonnes. Bien que l’appellation de Big Ben ne s’applique stricto sensu qu’à la clocherais, il est courant de désigner par ce terme l’ensemble de la tour de l’Horloge.
Westminster Hall - Westminster Hall, la plus vieille section subsistante du palais de Westminster, fut édifié en 1097. À l’origine, le toit était supporté par des piliers, mais fut remplacé sous Richard II par un comble en chêne réalisé sous l’égide de Henri Yevele et Hugues Herland, le maître-charpentier du roi. Il s’agit de l’une des plus grandes réussites de la construction médiévale en bois. Westminster Hall est ainsi l’une des plus grandes salles d’Europe n’ayant pas de support pour le toit, avec des dimensions de 73,2 m de long pour 20,7 m de large.
Westminster Hall a eu de nombreuses fonctions au cours de l’histoire, mais a principalement été utilisé à des fins juridiques. Le Hall accueillait jusqu’au XIXe siècle trois des plus importants tribunaux du pays, à savoir la Cour du Banc du Roi (Court of King’s Bench), la Cour d’Appel coutumière (Court of Common Pleas) et la Cour de la Chancellerie (Court of Chancery). En 1873, ces cours furent toutes fusionnées pour devenir la Haute Cour de Justice, qui continua à siéger à Westminster Hall jusqu’à son déménagement à la Cour royale de Justice en 1882. En plus des cours régulières, le Hall abrita aussi d’importants procès d’État, dont celui de Charles Ier à la fin de la première révolution anglaise.
Westminster Palace - J'ai voulu visiter le parlement, en pleine semaine, sans penser au protocole anglais. Normalement, en semaine, vous n'avez accès qu'au grand Westminster Hall et à St Stephen's Hall, à moins que vous fassiez parti d'un groupe de visite anglais, ou que vous vouliez assister au débat  du Parlement depuis l'une des galeries publiques. Les visites pour les étrangers ne sont possibles qu'en groupe le samedi. J'avançais naïvement dans le St Stephen's Hall vers le parlement, quand je fus arrêtée car je n'avais pas le droit d'aller plus loin. Mais un des gardes m'a très gentiment guidé en visite privé dans les salles les plus importantes de Westminster Palace avant que le siège du parlement ne commence. A la fin, je comprends qu'il était intrigué par ma nationalité d'origine, et très surpris quand je lui répondit française ! (photo interdite bien évidemment)
St Stephen's Hall - St Stephen's Hall is on the site where the House of Commons sat from the mid-16th century until the fire of 1834. It stands on the site of the royal chapel of St Stephen which was destroyed in the fire, but retains the shape and dimensions of the original chapel. Its stained glass windows and murals seek to restore some of the colour for which it was once famous. 
Norman porch - On the day of the State Opening of the Parliament, the monarch arrives in a state coach under the arch of the Victorian Tower and goes up to the 26 steps of the Royal Staircase to statues of Norman kings at the start of a procession of royal statues running through the building. The statues were never commissionned and in the 1960s a display of busts of Prime Ministers of the House of Lords was installed. 
Commons corridor - Commissionned in 1853, the murals in the Commons Corridor were painted by Edward Matthew Ward. They depict events in the second half of the 17th century culminating in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which established Parliament's supremacy over the monarchy. As in Peers Corridor, the Fine Arts Commission chose the subjects carefully. They focus on a particular heroic acts and more intimate scenes rather than significant battles as the Commission's intention was to represent fairly both royalist fugitives after the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685 when the King's army defeated the rebel army led by the Duke of Monmouth, an act for which sha was beheaded. 
Royal Gallery - Originally called the Victoria Gallery, this is the largest room in the Palace of Westminster and is designed to be imposing. It forms the main part of the processional route for the State Opening of Parliament. Guests watch the royal party leave the Robing Room and process along its 33,5m length towards the Lords Chamber from especially installed seating. Barry and Pugin, ornamented almost all the elements of this huge space, including the celling, wallpaper, wood panelling and vast gothic lettering. 
Prince's Chamber - The Prince's Chamber serves as an ante-room to the House of Lords. It is inherited its name from the room next to the Queen's Chamber in the medieval Palace, which was used by monarch's eldest son, the Prince of Wales. It is where a ceremonial search of the Palace cellars and basements starts on the morning of the State Opening of Parliament since the Gunpowder plot in 1605.
Queen's Robing Room - The Queen's Robing Room is where, before the State Opening of Parliament, the monarch puts on the Imperial State Crown and parliament robes.
The decoration of the room was completed by Edward Barry. Its theme is the legend of King Arthur, which the Victorians felt illustrated the power, privileges, virtues and duties invested in the monarch ; 18 carved oak relief depict scenes from the legend. 
Central Lobby - This is the mid-point between the Commons of the Lords, and the main route between the two. Visitors pass through to watch debates in the Chambers, an dmany people meet and lobby their MPs here. 
Central Lobby is an octogonal space with a decorated stone vault. The intricate shapes between the carved bosses and ribs of the celling are filled with mosaics. Statues of kings and queens line each of the eight arches. 
Lords Chamber - The Lords Chamber was completed in 1847. It was designed to be the grandest room in the Palace as it is the place where three pilars of British society come together : Monarchy, Church and Parliament. The decoration of this interior was without parallel elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster and exemplifies the succesful collaboration between Barry and Pugin. 
The Throne used by the monarch was designed by Pugin and first used in 1847. Its design is based on the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. It is made by John Webb of Bond Street ans it is of gilded mahogany decorated with embroidery of the royal coat of arms surrounded by rock crystals.
Sir Charles Barry a réalisé le nouveau palais de Westminster dans un style gothique dit « perpendiculaire », très populaire au XVe siècle et revenu à la mode au XIXe siècle avec le néogothique. Barry lui-même était en réalité un architecte de formation classique, mais fut aidé dans son travail par son collègue Augustus Pugin, rompu aux subtilités du gothique. Westminster Hall, construit au XIe siècle et rescapé des flammes, put être intégré harmonieusement dans la vision d’ensemble de Barry. Pugin fut toutefois mécontent de l’œuvre finale, en particulier à cause de la structure symétrique voulue par Barry. Il le fit savoir dans une remarque restée célèbre : « Du pur grec, monsieur. Des détails Tudor sur un corps classique ».


Buxton Memorial fountain - The Buxton Memorial Fountain is a memorial and drinking fountain, situated in the Victoria Tower Garden, that commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834.
It was commissioned by Charles Buxton MP, and was dedicated to his father Thomas Fowell Buxton along with William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Henry Brougham and Stephen Lushington, all of whom were involved in the abolition. It was designed by Gothic architectSamuel Sanders Teulon (1812–1873) in 1865 coincidentally with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which effectively ended the western slave-trade.
Streets around Westminster area -
Westminster Abbey - L’abbaye de Westminster est l'un des édifices religieux les plus célèbres de Londres. Sa construction date pour l'essentiel du XIIIe siècle, sous Henri III. C'est le lieu de sépulture d'une partie des rois et reines d'Angleterre et aussi des hommes et des femmes célèbres. Le « Coin des poètes » fait honneur aux écrivains du royaume. La quasi-totalité des couronnements des monarques anglais a eu lieu dans cette abbaye.
Le vrai nom de l'abbatiale est église collégiale Saint-Pierre. Westminster signifie « abbaye de l'ouest », venait du fait qu'elle se situait à l'ouest de la City (en opposition à Eastminster, monastère cistercien qui se trouvait à l'est, au-delà de la tour de Londres, sur le site de l'actuel Royal Mint). En vieux français, l'abbaye de Westminster se nommait Ouestmoustier (latin monasterium). (photo interdite à l'intérieure)
The north Transept, quire and sanctuary - Edward the Confessor's church was the first in England to built in the shape of a cross, with the north and south transepts forming its arms. 
The quire - a 'church within a church' - was where the monks once worshipped.
The 'Cosmati' pavement in front of the high altar was laid in the thirteenth century.
The coronation church - Westminster Abbey has seen thirty-eight coronation ceremonies. Indeed, Henry III built the Abbey specifically as a coronation church, with long transepts, so that as many people as possible could witness such events.
Iron grille of 1425 protecting the tomb of Henry V. The chairs and fadstools were given in 1949 for royal use.
The north ambulatory - More than 3 000 people are buried in the Abbey, and there are more than 600 tombs and monuments, some of them are massive. Many people commemorated here are remembered because of their distinguished careers, but quite a few owe their presence in the Abbey more to their wealth or social position. 
The gruesome Nightingale monument transfixes many a young visitor.
Henry VII's Lady Chapel - Beyond the Confessor's Chapel, at the east end of the Abbey, is one of its principal glories - the Lady Chapel of King Henry VII. The Chapel was begun astounding architectural achievements of the Tudor built by Robert Vertue, who had worked on the Abbey's nave as a mason, and his brother William.
The spectacular fan vaulting in the Lady Chapel. 
The effigies of Henry VII and his queen, Elizabeth of York, are by Pierro Torrigiano.
A white marble effigy of Queen Elizabeth I rests on her ornate tomb where her half-sister, Queen Mary I, is also buried. 
The nave - While the eastern half of the church was heavily influenced by French architecture, the long nave is typically English. During its construction in the late fourteenth century, Cardinal Simon Langham, a former abbot, was anxious to see faster progress and urged the use of cheaper stone for the pilars. We have Abbot Nicholas Litlyngton to thank for resisting such pressure and insisting that the more expensive Purbeck marble should be used throughout. It gave the Abbey its architectural continuity, so that its construction spanned 500 years.
The musician's aisle - Just as poets and scientists are gathered together, so musicians have their own special place in the Abbey, in the north quire aisle close to the place where Henry Purcell was buried. 
The Abbey organ, one of the largest in the country, has grown from one built in 1727 for the coronation of George II and Queen Carolien.
The cloisters and precincts - On the south side of the Abbey are extensive precincts where the monks once lived and worked. Many of the buildings they knew have gone, but some survive. The cloisters date from the thirteenth and fourthteenth centuries, the original Norman cloisters having been destroyed by fire. 
College garden - Penetrate beyond the Little Cloister and you come to the 900-year-old College Garden, the oldest garden in England. It was here the monks would grow their herbs, cultivate their fish ponds and take little exercise with some gentle archery. 
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(c) Chavanitas