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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
22nd November 1683 Purcells Welcome to All the Pleasures, premieres in London
This is where some of the world's most famous documents are kept
Description: This is the square tower at the southern end of the Palace of Westminster, facing south and west onto Black Rod's Garden and the Old Palace Yard. It celebrates it's 150th birthday in 2011.
Inside are the Parliamentary Archives across 12 floors. All 14 floors of the building were originally linked via a single wrought-iron Victorian staircase of 553 steps, of which now only five floors survive.
On the top of the tower is a flag pole from which the Union Flag is flown when Parliament is in session (unless the Sovereign is present in the Palace, when it is replaced by the Royal Standard).
The Victoria Tower was designed to hold papers related to Parliament which go back to 1497 and the reign of King Henry VII. All documents inside are original and, as well as holding every Act of Parliament to be passed in Britain, there are all sorts of objects and papers which chart every twist and turn of British history over 500 years.
Due to its unique contents very few people have ever been given access to the tower, although it has been described as one of the most historically important places in the world.
Inside are Charles I's death warrant signed by Oliver Cromwell, a journal by Guy Fawkes found with his gunpowder, and the America influencing 1765 Stamp Act on stitched together animal skins.