A set of stamps issued on July 30 celebrates the 150th anniversary of the completion of the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, the world-famous home of the Houses of Parliament.

Six counter-sheet stamps offer spectacular views of the exterior of the building and the parliamentary chambers, while a miniature sheet of four focuses on some of the spectacular interior architecture that is less often seen.

Founded by King Edward the Confessor, and still a royal palace although no longer a residence, the Palace of Westminster has been at the centre of English (later British) political life since the 11th century, and the permanent home of Parliament since the 16th century.

The original building was largely destroyed by fire in October 1834, but then rebuilt in Gothic Revival style by Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin, although not completed until after their deaths. It has more than 1,000 rooms, spread over four floors.

Designed by Steers McGillan Eves, from photographs, the set was printed in litho by International Security Printers, the counter sheet stamps coming in se-tenant strips of three.

 

1st class View from Old Palace Yard

The highly ornamented exterior of the building is well captured by this view, with the Elizabeth Tower as its backdrop.

1st class View from River Thames 

Perhaps the most impressive view of the entire Palace, and the best way to appreciate its size, is from the south bank of the River Thames.

1st class Elizabeth Tower

Renamed in 2012 to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, this clocktower is recognised around the world as the home of Big Ben, the bell which keeps London’s time.

£1.68 Commons Chamber

Destroyed by a German bomb in 1941, the Commons Chamber was rebuilt in more pared-down style by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, with one original damaged arch left in place as a memorial. Some of the wood was donated by countries of the Commonwealth.

£1.68 Central Lobby

At the heart of the Palace, halfway between the two debating chambers, the lobby is traditionally a place where constituents can meet their Members of Parliament. It is decorated with mosaics depicting the patron saints of the nations of the United Kingdom.

£1.68 Lords Chamber

The Lords Chamber was the most significant part of the interior to be completed as designed by Barry and Pugin. Its murals symbolise chivalry, justice and religion (representing the temporal, legal and spiritual lords), and there are bronze statues of the barons who forced King John to accept Magna Carta.

 

MINIATURE SHEET

1st class Norman Porch

The Norman Porch is the first-floor lobby at the top of the Royal Staircase, used by a monarch arriving for the State Opening of Parliament. It is lined with the busts of prime ministers who have sat in the House of Lords.

1st class Chapel of St Mary Undercroft

One of the few parts of the original building which escaped destruction in 1834, this crypt below St Stephen’s Chapel was subsequently restored to its former purpose as a place of worship, and restored to its former glory with rich decoration to its walls, floor and vaulting.

£1.63 St Stephen’s Hall

This is a Victorian re-imagining of the medieval royal chapel which had served as the Commons debating chamber from 1548, and whose choir stalls had established the adversarial seating plan which is still used today.

£1.63 Royal Gallery

One of the largest rooms in the Palace, the Royal Gallery is the scene of the royal procession at the State Opening of Parliament, and is decorated with frescoes commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar and Battle of Waterloo, as well as many royal portraits.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack gives an overview of the history and architecture of the Palace, and explores some of the key areas of the building in detail.

In addition to stamp cards and first day covers, a press sheet of 12 uncut miniature sheets is available in a limited edition of 300.

 

PRICES

Set of 6 stamps   £7.32

Miniature sheet   £4.78

Press sheet   £63.10

Presentation pack   £13.00

Stamp cards   £4.95

First day cover (stamps)   £9.45

First day cover (mini sheet)   £6.40

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   5/5

This is arguably the most famous British building in the world, and the most important

QUALITY OF DESIGN   2/5

The ongoing series on the theme of palaces depends on high-quality photography rather than innovative design

WOW FACTOR   3/5

This set could have more impact on overseas eyes than British, except that the most eye-catching images are 1st class values