"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Tea in the British Parliament

>> Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I was visiting Boudicca's Voice this morning and she was talking about a great tea shop in her area. It made me remember my best tea time experience. At Parliament. In London. A true story.

Two years ago this coming May I dragged Doug to London with me for a week. OK, I didn't have to drag him, but it did take some convincing to get him to take off work.

It was our 4th day there and we had spent the morning wandering about. We had seen St James Palace, Buckingham Palace, the Mall. And I had planned for us to have afternoon tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace. Our afternoon took an unexpected, wonderful turn.

We took the tube to the Westminster stop, planning to see Westminster Abbey before heading to Kensington. The Westminster stop actually puts you right outside Parliament and Westminster Hall.

Walking along the sidewalk beside the buliding, we were taking pictures of statues when Doug took a photo of two "bobbies" who were guarding an entrance. They invited me to join them for a photo.

Mike & Gary guarding the entrance

We stayed on for another 20 minutes or so talking about London, art, current events... Doug can talk to anyone about anything. As we were preparing to leave Mike mentioned that it was time for his tea break and would we "like a tour of Parliament?"

I should probably mention that Parliament was not in session at this time and was not open for tours, especially for foreign visitors.

Mike took us in through Westminster Hall.

Westminster Hall

Unfortunately this is the only place we were allowed to take photographs. Mike told us about working there during the lying in state of the Queen Mother and showed us the plaques marking the others who had laid in state there.

Then he gave us a tour of Parliament itself. The House of Commons, where the Queen is not allowed to enter, The House of Lords, lined with large portraits of current and past rulers and their consorts and decorated in gold, the Queen's room, where she prepares for Parliament. And all the back halls, voting rooms, historic documents and secrets he was able. I walked through in shock. Not everyday do you get a personal tour of an ancient building so full of history.

After the tour Mike invited us to join him for tea. We went to the cafeteria. Was it as fancy as the Orangery would have been? Nope. But it was infinately better. How many people can actually say that they had "tea in Parliament"?

Note: Obviously I have shortened this story considerably. If any of you are ever in our neck of the woods and want to see more pictures and hear the full story, let us know. We're always happy to talk about it! :)

UPDATE: For those that are interested, here are almost of the pictures we took in London.

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