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Westminster and the Victorian Constitution

  • Roland Quinault

Extract

The British constitution is unwritten, but not unbuilt. The character of Britain's government buildings reflects the nature of its political system. This is particularly true with respect to the Houses of Parliament. They were almost entirely rebuilt after a fire, in 1834, which seriously damaged the House of Commons and adjacent buildings. The new Houses of Parliament were the most magnificent and expensive public buildings erected in Queen Victoria's reign. Their architectural evolution has been meticulously chronicled by a former Honorary Secretary of the Royal Historical Society, Professor Michael Port. But constitutionalists and historians have shewn little or no interest in the political character of the Victorian Houses of Parliament. Walter Bagehot, in his famous study, The English Constitution, published in 1867, made no reference to the newly completed Houses of Parliament. Likewise most modern books on Victorian political and constitutional history make no mention of die rebuilding.

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  • ISSN: 0080-4401
  • EISSN: 1474-0648
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