On 5 November 1605, a group of conspirators planned to blow up the House of Lords in Westminster, killing King James and changing the course of British history forever. Fortunately for the king, the authorities received a tip-off. On the night of 4 November, one of the plotters, Guy Fawkes, was caught below parliament. He was guarding enough gunpowder to blow the king, his courtiers and half of central London sky high.
A few months later on 27 January 1606, eight of the conspirators, including Fawkes, were sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered – a grim punishment reserved for those convicted of High Treason. Since then, every 5 November in Britain has been marked by Guy Fawkes Night. To celebrate the anniversary of parliament's lucky escape, we've put together a list of five things you didn't know about the Houses of Parliament... 1. The clock tower commonly known as Big Ben (which is actually the name of the bell inside) was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
2. If you take a tour on Saturdays, you can have afternoon tea in the fabulously decorated Pugin Room. 3. The oldest part of the building is Westminster Hall, begun in 1097. It has the largest medieval timber roof in Northern Europe.
4. There are ribbons for MPs to hang their swords on in the House of Lords cloakroom. 5. In 1949, a flock of starlings perched on the minute hand of Big Ben’s clock, slowing it by 4.5 minutes. To learn more about the Houses of Parliament book your tour today.