Thursday, October 4, 2018

A Hungry History of the Houses of Parliament

From The Spectator:

Then your mind jumps to the coronation banquet of King James II in 1685, with thousands of dignitaries dining on patty pigeon, hogs tongues and sweet breads. Now your mind jumps further to January 23 1806 and you hear William Pitt the Younger declare on his deathbed the immortal last words, ‘I think I could eat one of Bellamy’s meat pies!’ – Bellamy being the deputy housekeeper of the House of Commons after whom the restaurant Bellamy’s in Parliament is named.

You then breathe in ash and soot and find yourself standing in the House of Commons just after the Great Fire of 1834, and all the debris is magically cleared away to be replaced by a new tea room, a smoking room, and kitchens ‘worse than being on board any Indian steamship’, as described by the manager of 1869 Mr Nicholes.

All at once you find yourself thrown into the 20th century, watching the grand opening of the Members’ Dining Room and Strangers’ Dining Room, both of which have large bay windows lit up by light refracting off the Thames. Now you’re sitting in a catering committee meeting, and its 1950, and the committee decides that ‘the cafeteria is unsatisfactory … the Strangers’ Bar uninviting … the tea room badly designed’ and that the House of Commons should be providing a ‘service … and not a business concern.’ (Read more.)

No comments: