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The House of Lords 1801-1834

In 1801 the Lords moved from the Queen's Chamber, where it had sat since the Middle Ages, into the Lesser Hall. This move was to cater for greater numbers of Members resulting from the Act of Union with Ireland.

The House of Lords around 1810

The Lesser Hall lay to the south of Westminster Hall and was originally one of the banqueting halls of the royal palace. It was later used by the Court of Requests in which petitions of the King's subjects were heard. When the Lords moved into the Lesser Hall, the work of the Court of Requests was transferred to the Painted Chamber.

Layout of the Hall

At the upper end of the Lesser Hall stood the King's Throne, a gilded and carved chair surmounted by a canopy of state. In front of the Throne lay the Woolsack, and the side benches and crossbenches were arranged as in the present Chamber.

In the centre was the Table of the House, on which rested the Mace and the Great Seal. There were no side galleries and the walls were decorated with magnificent tapestries depicting the Spanish armada.

Commons Chamber

A fire in 1834 destroyed much of the palace including the Commons Chamber. So the Lesser Hall was repaired and fitted out temporarily for use by the House of Commons. At the same time it was decided that the House of Lords should move into the smaller Painted Chamber.

Both Houses used this arrangment until their new Chambers were completed once the palace had been rebuilt following the fire.

Art in parliament

View images from the Parliamentary Art Collection.

Glossary links

Also in this section

Learn about earlier meeting places of the House of Lords