The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 2 Whitehall

Parliament Street

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We have now reached the beginning of PARLIAMENT STREET, the continuation of Whitehall since the early 18th century, but recently much widened and now affording a fine view of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. In the middle of the roadway rises the Cenotaph, commemorating in dignified simplicity the Glorious Dead of 1914-18. The monument, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was erected in plaster as a saluting point for the Allied 'Victory March' of November 11th, 1919, and was rebuilt in stone and unveiled by the King on November 11th, 1920, the second anniversary of the Armistice. The gun carriage bearing the 'Unknown Warrior' to Westminster Abbey paused here for the solemn 'two minutes' silence' dedicated by the Empire to the memory of its dead defenders. On the right rise two large blocks of Government Offices, connected by a bridge spanning King Charles Street [at the other end of which, overlooking the park, is a statue of Lord Clive (1725-74), by Tweed]. The first of these, presenting a facade 100 yards long to Parliament Street and completed in a dignified Italian style by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1875, contains the Colonial Office (northeast angle), the Home Office (southeast), the India Office, and the Foreign Office (northwest). The central quadrangle is open to the public. The India Office Library, founded in 1801, contains one of the largest existing collections of printed, lithographed, and MS. books relating to the Middle East, and also paintings of the Persian, Mogul, and Indian schools. So far as convenience allows it is ordinarily, except on Thursday and at specified times, open to inspection by the public during official hours (10-5). The India Office contains also interesting portraits and other paintings by Zoffany, Reynolds, and Benjamin West portrait statues; the Koran of Tippu Sahib (1749-99), the last Sultan of Mysore; the Chippendale chair used by the chairman of the East India Company, etc. The corridors on the first floor of the Foreign Office exhibit allegorical frescoes by Sigismund Goetze (1921), depicting the origin, education, development, and triumph of the British Empire. In this office the Treaty of Locarno was signed in December, 1925. The next block, in the Italian Renaissance style, by J. M. Brydon (1900-19), covers the site of King Street and Delahay Steet. It accommodates the Board of Education (northeast), the Ministry of Health (southeast), the Board of Trade (southwest), and the Office of Works (northwest). Derby Street, on the east side of Parliament Street, leads to New Scotland Yard . From the south end of Parliament Street Great George Street runs west to St. James's Park and Birdcage Walk, passing the Surveyors' Institution, the Institution of Civil Engineers, and opposite Storey's Gate, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. To the east from Parliament Street Bridge Street, passing the Clock Tower, leads to Westminster Station, and to Westminster Bridge .