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Time: 16:21 23 May 2011

Parliament prepares for summer opening

11th July 2011

History, politics and culture vultures will be looking to book a place in 5 star hotels in London as parliament plans its summer opening from July 19th through to September 3rd.

Tours in what is known as "the mother of all parliaments" can be arranged for when parliament is not sitting and members work away from Westminster, with tickets available for Saturdays and during the week.

The guided tour lasts for 75 minutes and includes the Commons and Lords Chambers, the Queen's Robing Room, the Royal Gallery and Westminster Hall.

Visitors will see some of the most important areas of the Palace of Westminster and will be told what parliament is and does, detailing its history, cultural impact and how it developed into the legislative body it is today.

Most of the faux-Gothic buildings seen during the tour were originally built in the mid 19th century following a fire, but visitors are treated to seeing much older buildings, such as Westminster Hall, which was started in 1097 by William Rufus, son of William the Conqueror.

Foreign visitors can benefit from guided tours in French, Spanish, Italian and German at set times. However, additional foreign language tours can possibly be arranged if a group booking is made.

Security is obviously a priority concern at the Houses of Parliament, with baggage above the size commonly permitted on airplanes being refused entry, which may prove inconvenient for some as the site has no facility to store luggage.

Additionally, a number of security measures have been put into place, including airport-style searches as well as a ban on the use of mobile phones and cameras.

While tours usually only run on Saturdays, the summer opening allows for visits throughout the week.

July and August will have walkthroughs running from 09:15 GMT to 16:30 GMT on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

The two months will also see an additional tour day each Wednesday from 13:15 GMT to 16:30 GMT.

Parliament is a short tube ride away from the Montcalm hotel, with Marble Arch station bringing passengers to Westminster station in under ten minutes via a changeover at Bond Street Station.


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