The Speaker's Chair

The Speaker's Chair, designed for the Palace by Pugin around 1849, was destroyed when the House of Commons was bombed in 1941. A temporary chair was used while the Commons sat in the Lords Chamber after the bombing.

The present chair was given by Australia and is made of black beanwood from North Queensland. At the back of the chair hangs the bag in which MPs deposit petitions presented to the House on behalf of members of the public or outside organisations.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, several chairs had been used. Until 1706, the Speaker was entitled to take away his chair as a perquisite on retirement. The oldest relic of a Speaker's Chair survives in Radley church in Oxfordshire; it was occupied by Speaker William Lenthall from 1640 until 1653, when he was dragged away from it by Oliver Cromwell's musketeers.

Replicas of the chair

Exact replicas of the Pugin chair have been presented by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to the House of Commons in Canada and to the House of Representatives in Australia. In both cases, portions of old oak from the roof of Westminster Hall and from Nelson's flagship Victory were incorporated into the chairs.

Specially-designed Speaker's Chairs were also given by the House of Commons to Ceylon in 1949, New Zealand in 1951, Ghana in 1959, Nigeria in 1962, Malaysia in 1963, Jamaica in 1964, Sarawak and Malawi in 1966, Zambia and the Gambia in 1967, Swaziland in 1970 and Grenada in 1976.

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Related information

Biography

You can access a biography of

Augustus Welby Pugin

from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for free, online, using your local library card number (includes nine out of ten public libraries in the UK) or from within academic library and other subscribing networks.

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