GARY Egerton, the January speaker, and London Blue Badge guide, told us of the history of the Houses of Parliament.

It was originally a palace built by Edward the Confessor and was one of the main royal residences.

A fire destroyed much of the palace in 1512, but Parliament continued to meet there until 1834, when an even greater fire ravaged it. The only buildings to survive were Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephen's, the chapel of St Mary Undercroft and the Jewel Tower.

It was rebuilt in the gothic style by the architect Charles Barry, with interior décor designed by Augustus Pugin.

The décor in red for the Lords and green for the Commons holds to this day. The Commons was bombed during the Second World War and reconstructed to the original design. The building is still a royal palace although no monarch has entered the Commons since Charles I. When the Queen arrives to open the new session of Parliament, she is told: “Your Majesty, the cellars have been searched”.

This relates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when barrels of explosives were found in the cellars. This was a very detailed talk with many interesting facts and anecdotes and well illustrated.

The next meeting is at the Adult Community College, Richmond Road, Grays on Friday, February 24, at 8pm. Jonathan Catton, heritage and museum officer, is speaking on the History of Tilbury Docks. Visitors are very welcome.