The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4
The House of Lords.
Is an oblong but handsome room, rather less than that in which the commons meet. This apartment was also repaired, &c. on the occasion of the union with Ireland. It is decorated with pinnacles, in the front next to ; but certainly has but little to recommend it to our admiration.
The interior is formed out of that spacious apartment, formerly called The Court of Requests; and is handsomely ornamented with fine tapestry hangings, consisting of historical figures, representing the defeat of the Spanish armada in . They were the gift of the states of Holland to queen Elizabeth.
At the Union with Ireland, these hangings were taken down, and cleaned, and put up in their present place. The tapestry is judiciously set off with large frames, of brown stained wood, dividing it into compartments, respectively containing the several portions of the history, or events of the destruction meditated by the Spaniards on that occasion. The heads, which form a border to each design, are portraits of the several gallant officers who commanded in the English fleet at that important period.
This room does not occupy the whole of the old court of requests; part of the north end being formed into a lobby, by which the commons pass to the upper house; and the height being reduced by the elevated floor of wood, over the original stone pavement.
The throne is an armed chair, elegantly carved and gilt, ornamented with crimson velvet. Above it is a splendid canopy of crimson velvet, surmounted by the imperial crown; this canopy is supported by gilt columns of the Corinthian order, with a magnificent architrave which forms the cornice of the canopy.
Though by no means a splendid room, the house of lords is nevertheless a very handsome . It has been, however, in contemplation to build a new , though no decisive measures have as yet been adopted to that effect. At the south-east corner of Old , on the site of the present regal entrance to the house of lords, was the prince's chamber, part of the ancient palace; adjoining the prince's chamber was the apartment known as the old house of lords, in the cellars of which the celebrated gun-powder treason was to have taken effect; all this has been destroyed, and some mean brick edifices erected in their stead. The exterior of these buildings display some of the most ridiculous attempts at imitating the grandeur of Gothic architecture ever witnessed.
The royal approach to the house of lords is by an enclosed Gothic corridor, with a porch of the same character, leading to a staircase designed by J. Soane, esq. which was commenced in the summer of , and finished in ; it formerly led to the prince's chamber and other apartments of the ancient palace, which were taken down, and the foundations laid for the royal gallery, in ; the same was finished in . Part of the ancient site is appropriated for a library, and committee rooms for the houses of lords and commons. The royal staircase is in flights; on the top are recesses: to the right and left are arched openings to a decorated vestibule, which is adorned by scagliola columns supporting galleries; to the left, between columns, is a large opening to the royal gallery, which may be considered as divided into compartments, each of which has a lantern dome filled with stained glass; the whole surface of the ceiling and parts of the walls are extravagantly adorned with flowers, flutings, scrolls, &c. whilst the lantern lights are vaulted, highly enriched, supported by columns, and additionally decorated by candelabra, &c.
Adjoining the house of lords is the ancient building called the