The Architecture of Westminster: Royalty and Power with Chris Scott

The Architecture of Westminster: Royalty and Power with Chris Scott


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Led by qualified architect and lecturer in architectural history, Chris Scott, this interactive discussion will trace the rich and vibrant history of Westminster. Key architectural projects, associated with royalty, on the one hand, and Parliament on the other, will be discussed, along with the historical tension between these two arms of the state. Participants will come away, not only with an appreciation of the architectural history of the area but also an impetus to explore Westminster in more detail as part of future travels.

The conversation begins with the reign of Edward the Confessor who built a Romanesque palace and abbey in the area, in 1065, establishing Westminster as the Royal Quarter. A virtual walking tour then explores the development of the different royal palaces, starting with Henry VIII's Tudor Whitehall Palace. An iconic seventeenth-century addition to the palace was the Banqueting House; designed by Inigo Jones, this building represents an architectural milestone in bringing Classical architecture to the capital and is also where Charles I had his head chopped off for his determination to rule by divine right. The Tudor architecture of St. James's Palace and John Nash's design for Buckingham Place will also be discussed as the official homes of the monarch.

The seminar moves onto the development of Trafalgar Square, as a celebration of Britain's status as a global power, following the Napoleonic Wars and Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. An important topic for architectural discussion in the nineteenth century 'Battle of the Styles' between Neoclassical architecture, on the one hand, epitomized by the architecture of John Nash and Trafalgar Square, and Gothic Revival architecture, on the other, through the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament, following the Great Fire of 1834.

Chris studied architecture at the University of Sheffield and became a RIBA qualified architect in the mid-nineties. He has lived in London for over 20 years and, as well as working for a number of high-profile architectural practices in the city, he has spent the last 14 years teaching the History of Architecture in London for Boston University (USA). Chris particularly enjoys giving guided tours and exploring the many layers of London's architectural history from its Roman origins to present-day hi-tech architecture. He has a special interest in developments in the city either side of the 1666 Great Fire of London, and the Battle of the Styles between Gothic and Classical architecture.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.