Bring your family to the adjacent gardens and playground of this Gothic masterpiece that plays a key role in the U.K.’s parliamentary history.
The tall Gothic features of the 19th-century Victoria Tower can be seen rising above the riverside cityscape in central London. Home to the Parliamentary Archives, the tower hoists an iron flagpole that announces whether the ruling monarch is present. Stand in front of the tower and gaze up for a sense of its sheer size.
Designed to hold the historic records of the British Parliament, the tower was completed in May of 1860. It was one of the final additions to the new incarnation of the Palace of Westminster that replaced an older building destroyed by fire 26 years earlier.
Capture photos of the enormous arch at the tower’s base, harboring a black-and-gold railing and rows of stained-glass windows. Marvel at the intricate carvings adorning the four sides of the square tower. Above this entrance archway are the floors containing parchment scrolls dating back to 1497. It is said the largest of these scrolls is 1,132 feet (345 meters) long when unfurled.
Notice the large octagonal hole in the vaulted ceiling of the entrance arch. It was used to pull heavy items up to the higher levels of the tower.
Bring supplies for a picnic on the grassy Victoria Tower Gardens, which is flanked by rows of trees and dominated by a view of the tower itself. The park contains several memorials on the theme of freedom.
Study the Buxton Memorial that pays tribute to the abolition of slavery and admire the Burghers of Calais work by renowned French artist Auguste Rodin. Let your kids frolic around the dance chimes, water feature and sandpit of the Horseferry Playground.
Victoria Tower rises from the southwestern corner of the Palace of Westminster in the center of London. Arrive by Tube to the stations of St. James Park, Westminster or Lambeth North, which enclose the River Thames. Explore the area for such sights as Westminster Abbey, Lambeth Palace and the Imperial War Museums.