Today, a beautiful stained glass window was presented to HM Queen Elizabeth II by the members of the House of Lords and other Members of Parliament. What was so interesting to me was that I had been in Westminster Hall, this exact room, two weeks ago. My friend, Poppy and her husband had shown me around the Houses of Parliament after dinner and Westminster Hall was one of the spaces we saw.
Compared to many of the other spaces we visited, Westminster Hall was actually quite simple. It has a hammerbeam roof, which rises to more than 60 feet, and a plain stone floor. The evening I was there, it was empty, but chairs were added for today’s ceremony.Westminster Hall was built in 1097, and had burned twice, most recently during WWII, when it was hit by a bomb during the Blitz. The hall is not in frequent use, and it’s a rare privilege for a world leader to speak there – President Obama is the only American president to have done so. My hosts pointed out some marks on the floor, and they indicated the spot where Sir Winston Churchill had laid in state. HM received addresses from the leaders of both Houses, another rare occasion – only the fifth or sixth time since 1935. She was given a stained glass window that will replace a clear glass window that was installed after an IRA bomb destroyed the old window in the 1970’s.The window is comprised of more than 1500 pieces and will be installed later this year. For now, it will be at eye level so it can be clearly seen by visitors. It was designed by John Reyntiens, a London-based stained glass craftsman.As I said before, it was truly awesome to be in a place where so much history surrounds you.