Sunday, June 04, 2006

House of Lords Visit

Okay, this post is impossible to do without a ridiculous amount of shameless name-dropping and bragging about history, so here goes:

Lord Richard Acton, descendent of the famous Lord Acton who famously observed that "power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely," gave me, Szonyi, and the other teachers in our program a tour of the House of Lords. Because we were such a large group, another Lord (Lady?) Ruth Rendell, joined to sponsor us for the tour and the tea. Both are Labour life peers, though Lord Acton also has an inherited title. He is a descendent of Balfour and Charles II (though since Charles II never married, the bragging rights on that branch of the family tree are offered with a wink and a nudge). Ms. Rendell signed copies of her mystery set in the House of Lords written under the nom de plume, Barbara Vine.

Our tour included the Robing room where the Queen readies herself to open a session of parliament, the chambers where the Lords and Commons meet, a lot of bad art, and ornate design (think toned-down, slightly seedy Versaille) and most memorably, the records room from the House of Lords, containing every act of Parliament. We saw the original stamp act and viewed the House of Lord's copy of the Declaration of Independence. Szonyi was in heaven. It was all pretty cool, and the tea was delicious.


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