The cloisters

The cloisters to St Stephen's Chapel are one of the few surviving parts of the ancient Palace of Westminster. They were re-built between 1526 and 1529 in the style of Henry VII's Chapel in Westminster Abbey, and the cost was donated by John Chambers (the physician to Henry VIII and the last Dean of St Stephen's College).

From 1794, the two-storied cloisters were annexed as part of the Speaker's residence and the ground floor was used as domestic quarters with the Chapter House converted as a scullery.

The lower storey was thoroughly restored after the fire of 1834, with its original appearance faithfully reproduced stone by stone. The fan vaulting of the roof is of great beauty; each bay has an elaborately-carved central boss, with smaller carved bosses depicting Tudor roses, portcullises, fleurs-de-lis and pomegranates. The upper storey of the cloisters was almost entirely destroyed in the fire of 1834, but was restored on its ancient lines. The two storeys are connected by a wide stone staircase - the Members' staircase - with a vaulted stone roof in the style of the cloisters.

On 8 December 1940, the south and east sides of the cloisters were devastated by bombs and considerable damage was done to the other two sides. These parts were rebuilt with Portland and Caen stone to match the old stonework. The cloisters and upper oratory are now used as offices and writing rooms.

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