Spring Showers in Westminster London 23cm x 31cm Original Oil on Primed Belgian Linen by
Westminster is the bustling government area near Buckingham Palace. Tourists head to Trafalgar Square’s monuments and to see the changing of the guards at Horse Guards Parade while politicians mingle in Whitehall’s pubs. At the Houses of Parliament, by the River Thames, the Big Ben bell rings out from its iconic clock tower. Medieval Westminster Abbey contains the graves of historical figures such as Charles Darwin. The imposing tower of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are seen through the trees that line the Embankment of the River Thames where the wet pavements are reflecting the soft watery light that is breaking through the rain clouds on this April morning in London. The passing red London bus creates a bright contrast to the soft greys created by the reflected rain clouds and colours of the old stonework of the embankment walls.
The Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire in 1834. In 1844, it was decided the new buildings for the Houses of Parliament should include a tower and a clock. A massive bell was required and the first attempt (made by John Warner & Sons at Stockton-on-Tees) cracked irreparably. The metal was melted down and the bell recast in Whitechapel in 1858. Big Ben first rang across Westminster on 31 May 1859. A short time later, in September 1859, Big Ben cracked. A lighter hammer was fitted and the bell rotated to present an undamaged section to the hammer. This is the bell as we hear it today. The first is that it was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the first commissioner of works, a large man who was known affectionately in the house as “Big Ben”. The second theory is that it was named after a heavyweight boxing champion at that time, Benjamin Caunt. Also known as “Big Ben”, this nickname was commonly bestowed in society to anything that was the heaviest in its class. Westminster Hall is the oldest building on the Parliamentary estate. It has played a central role in 900 years of British history, with the major institutions of the British state having grown up directly around it. St Stephen’s Chapel is the forgotten heart of the Palace of Westminster. For seven centuries St Stephen’s was at the centre of the political and religious life of the nation, and its influence is still detected today.