Parliament Week: The objects and photos from Parliament through the centuries Part II

By Culture24 Reporter | 05 November 2011
Parliament Week 2011: Here's Part Two of Culture24's look at some of the best photos and objects telling the story of Parliament in the UK...

A photo of a white helmet with the logo of the UK parliament on it
Protective helmet issued by Air Raid Precautions Committee (1940s)© Parliamentary Archives
The metal protective helmet pictured was one of the items of kit issued as part of preparations for the civil defence of Westminster Palace.

The Parliamentary Archives also holds a small black lamp which belonged to the House of Commons Librarian, Strathearn Gordon, and was hooded to deflect light downwards during blackouts.

A black and white photo of a politician in a suit
Baron Pitt of Hampstead (circa 1976)
© Parliamentary Archives
David Thomas Pitt became only the second black Member of the House of Lords when he was made a life peer as Baron Pitt of Hampstead in 1975. The first was Learie Constantine, who became Baron Constantine of Maraval and Nelson six years earlier.

Pitt was born in Grenada, studied medicine in Edinburgh and lived and worked in Trinidad and the Caribbean before arriving in London in 1974, where he promptly established himself as an esteemed general practitioner, a champion of migrant communities and a campaigner against race discrimination - although, unfortunately for Pitt, his repeated attempts to win election to the House of Commons proved unsuccessful.

A photo of an ancient scroll with a handwritten decree on it
An Act for the better securing the Liberty of the Subject, and for Prevention of Imprisonments Beyond the Seas (Habeas Corpus Act), 31 Charles II (1679)© Parliamentary Archives
A significant Act passed during the reign of Charles II was the Act designed to codify the ancient prerogative writ of Habeas Corpus.

This prevented the unlawful detention of people by the authorities, giving courts the power to determine the legality of such imprisonment.
A photo of an ancient painting of a royal banquet on a scroll
The King's champion during the first course, History of the Coronation of George IV by G Nayler (1839)
© Parliamentary Archives
The coronation of George IV on July 19 1821 saw the King's return to public favour following the disastrous embarrassment of his attempt to remove the title of his wife, Queen Caroline, the previous year.

The lavish celebrations cost Parliament £243,000. Having fended off an attempt by the Queen to break into the Abbey during the ceremony, the King then attended what was to become the last-ever coronation feast in Westminster Hall, featuring a 30-foot gothic arch through which the King's champion rode on a circus horse.

A photo of an ancient copy of a scroll with a handwritten decree on it and the stamp of the House of Lords
Copy of the American Declaration of Independence (July 4 1776, laid before the House of Lords on January 20 1778)
© Parliamentary Archives
Britain passed a series of Acts during the 18th century which reflected - and in some cases fuelled - a volatile relationship with her American colonies.

Following a petition to the House of Lords which included the signature of radical politician Benjamin Franklin, an outbreak of fighting at Lexington in 1775 symbolised the breakdown of the colonial relationship. On July 4 1776, the 13 colonies declared themselves independent.

  • The Parliamentary Archives has highlighted 150 treasures from the three million historic records of both Houses of Parliament in a book, Victoria Tower Treasures from the Parliamentary Archives, available from the Parliamentary Bookshop.
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
Related listings (1013)
See all related listings »
Related resources (730)
See all related resources »