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Palace of Westminster

We hold a number of collections that record the history, art and architecture of the Palace of Westminster. The following is not a complete list but aims to highlight the different types of collections.

The Architectural Archive (ARC)

A centralised source of documents relating to the building and fabric of the Palace of Westminster. It contains copies of original documents (plans, drawings, reports and other papers) held at various institutions in England.

The Ballantine Drawings (BAD)

Designs for the windows of the House of Lords Chamber by Messrs. Ballantine & Allen, submitted to the Royal Commission of Fine Arts in 1844. Ballantine and Allen were stained glass manufacturers based in Edinburgh and were part of the gothic revival in architecture and design in the nineteenth century. James Ballantine (1808-1877) was recommended by the Fine Arts Commission to design and make the windows. Although subsequently re-designed by AWN Pugin, most were still made by Ballantine & Allan.

Papers of Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860), Architect (BAR)

Plans, drawings and letters relating to Charles Barry’s work on the Palace of Westminster. Barry was the head architect in charge of remodelling the Palace in 1837, working closely with AWN Pugin. There are architectural drawings and plans of the Palace of Westminster, photographic copies of his designs for the House of Lords Throne, letters from and to Barry (including some from Pugin) and various other documents, including his family tree, his eldest son’s diary, and papers related to the works to complete the New Palace of Westminster after his Barry’s death.

Designs of John Hardman Studios, Birmingham (HAR)

Working drawings and cartoons prepared in the studios of Messrs. John Hardman, relating to the provision of stained glass and other ornamentation for the new Houses of Parliament. Messrs. John Hardman Studios, of which John Hardman Powell was part, made all of the stained glass (from designs often by AWN Pugin) for the New Houses of Parliament, with the exception of those in the House of Lords.

Historic Photographs: Benjamin Stone Photographs (HC/LB/1/111) and Farmer Photographs (FAR)

Photographs of the interior and exterior of the Houses of Parliament. Sir Benjamin Stone MP (1838-1914) took hundreds of photographs of the estate between 1897 and 1910, in what was the first comprehensive photographic survey of the building. The Farmer Collection dates mainly from c1905 and are photographs taken for the publication “Parliament, Past and Present – A popular and picturesque account of a thousand years in the Palace of Westminster, the home of the Mother of Parliaments”.

The Library Westminster Collection (HC/LB/1/114)

Plans, drawings, engravings, volumes and photographs mostly relating to the buildings of the Palace of Westminster in the 19th and 20th centuries. Of particular interest are a volume of measured drawings of the Star Chamber made in Dec 1835 and Jan 1836, plans of the temporary Houses of Parliament, 1835, 1843, 1845-1847 and 1853, showing how the building was being used during reconstruction and a volume of 38 measured drawings made in 1914 in connection with the restoration of the hammer beam roof of Westminster Hall by the Office of Works under the supervision of Sir Frank Baines.

The Prize Cartoons (PRC)

Lithographs of the winning Royal Commission of the Fine Arts competition designs for fresco decorations in the New Houses of Parliament by various artists, dated circa 1843.

Clock Designs:  Vulliamy (VUL) and Whitehurst (WHU)

Rejected designs made by Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy and John Whitehurst III for the Clock (later “Big Ben”) in the New Palace of Westminster.