‘It Was as Though a Spell Has Been Cast on Them’: The Relationship Between the Palace of Westminster and the UK Parliament
Image source: The Palace of Westminster.

Alexandra Meakin
Research Associate
University of Manchester

Legislative buildings are not simply collections of bricks and mortar, but shape and influence the behaviour of those working within. One such building, the Palace of Westminster—the permanent home of the House of Commons and House of Lords since 1547 has become so intrinsically linked with the institution of parliament that the idea of moving out of the Palace—now dangerously dilapidated—is not even considered as an option. The building is considered to have “cast a spell” over MPs in particularand thispaper examines the nature and impact of this spell. It demonstrates how anemotional attachment has shaped decisions about the Palace for centuries—and is shaping the policy response to the building’s failing infrastructure and crumbling stonework. Indoing so, it adds to the small but significant literature on the meaning and impact of parliamentary buildings. It further offers policy-relevant insights to the Restoration and Renewal programme, demonstrating considerable real-world impact. By understanding the attachment of key actors within the UK Parliament to the building in which we work, we can understand how the style and format of the building has been maintained through centuries and how, in turn, the building has shaped the style and format of UK politics.

October 9, 2020