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The Members' Lobby and Churchill arch

The Members' Lobby was designed to be the working ante-room to the Commons Chamber, just as the Peers' Lobby and Princes' Chamber were purpose-built for the Lords. The room was extensively damaged by Second World War bombing, and was rebuilt afterwards in a simplified style.

The Lobby contains message boards with pigeon holes for notes to be left for MPs while they are in the Chamber or in Committee meetings; if there is something in the slots, the MP's name is automatically illuminated. On the opposite side of the Lobby is a letters board, which serves a similar function. The doorkeepers' chairs on either side of the Churchill arch contain a lever for setting the division bells ringing. The doorkeepers guard the entrance to the chamber whenever the House is sitting.

There is some damage to one of the doors between the Members' Lobby and the Commons Chamber, just beneath the grille. State Openings are presided over by the Monarch and are held in the House of Lords as the Sovereign, due to historical convention, may not enter the House of Commons. To summon the Commons to the House of Lords to attend State Openings, the 'Gentlemen Usher of the Black Rod' is sent. He has to knock three times on the door to the Commons Chamber with his staff before he is admitted to deliver his summons. Over the years this has caused damage to the door.

The Churchill arch

The arch leading into the Chamber itself is known as the Churchill arch. It was Winston Churchill who suggested that the arch be rebuilt from the original bomb-scarred stone as a monument to the ordeal of war, and as a reminder to future generations of the fortitude of those who stood firm through those times.

The archway is flanked by statues of David Lloyd George and of Churchill himself, the prime ministers of Britain during the First and Second World Wars respectively. One foot on each statue has been burnished bright by the hands of MPs, who touch them for luck as they enter or exit the Chamber. Opposite Churchill stands the statue of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the first person to be so honoured by the House whilst still living.

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You can access biographies of

Winston Churchill
David Lloyd George

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.