Skip to main content

The Lords Chamber

The Lords Chamber is the most lavishly-decorated room in the Palace of Westminster.

It has the grandest interior because it is where the three elements of Parliament (the Sovereign, the Lords and the Commons) come together. The furnishings in the Chamber are predominantly decorated in red, while green is the colour of the Commons' end.

The Chamber's ceiling is divided into eighteen panelled compartments, each showing ancient emblems such as the white hart of Richard II. The monarchs of England and Scotland were depicted in the original stained-glass windows by Pugin, but these were lost during the Second World War, and their 1950 replacements show the coats of arms of peers between 1360 and 1900.

The armorial bearings running beneath the side of the galleries are of the sovereigns from Edward III and the Lord Chancellors from 1377, and there are six allegorical frescoes representing the spirits of Justice, Religion and Chivalry, regarded by the Victorians as cornerstone virtues. Between the windows are statues of the sixteen barons and the two bishops known to have been present at the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

Fittings and furnishings

Many fittings and furnishings in the Chamber were designed by Pugin - including the solid brass gates at the entrance of the Chamber, each weighing some three quarters of a ton. At the far end of the Chamber on a dais is the Royal Throne. This ornate gilded piece is based on the early 14th-century Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey.

In front of the Throne is the Woolsack, on which the Lord Speaker sits. It is thought to have been introduced in the 14th century to reflect the economic importance of the wool trade to England. Over the years, its stuffing changed to hair, but in 1938 it was re-stuffed with wool from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and countries of the Commonwealth, given by the International Wool Secretariat. The other two woolsacks are used by Judges at the State Opening of Parliament.

Art in Parliament

View images from the Parliamentary Art Collection.

Did you know?

The Chamber contains a gallery for the press and public to watch debates. It is also fitted with microphones so that Members can remain standing by their seats to speak; the benches have hidden loudspeakers so that Members can hear each other.

Also in this section

Find out more about Pugin

Related information

Take a walk round the House of Lords' Chamber on a virtual tour