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Bombing of the Houses of Parliament: 75th Anniversary

Published Thursday, May 5, 2016

This House of Lords briefing provides an overview of the events of 10–11 May 1941, when the German Air Force launched an air raid on London, and dropped bombs on the Palace of Westminster, destroying the House of Commons Chamber and damaging the House of Lords Chamber, Westminster Hall and the Clock Tower. It also briefly describes the arrangements made after the attack for the rebuilding of a new House of Commons Chamber. The briefing has been prepared to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing.

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On 10 May 1941, incendiary and high-explosive bombs were dropped on the Palace of Westminster, destroying the House of Commons Chamber and damaging the House of Lords Chamber, Westminster Hall and the Clock Tower. The air raid was part of the Luftwaffe’s (German Air Force) campaign of sustained aerial bombing attacks on Britain, known as the Blitz.  The attack launched by the Luftwaffe on 10 May 1941 was its biggest air raid on London during the Second World War. It resulted in 1,436 civilian deaths, and caused damage to a number of other buildings including Westminster Abbey and the British Museum.  As a result of the damage to the Commons chamber, between late June 1941 and October 1950, the House of Commons sat in the House of Lords Chamber, and the House of Lords sat in the Robing Room.  The architect, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, was appointed to design the overall architectural scheme and interior of the new Chamber, and it was officially opened by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 26 October 1950.

Lords In Focus LIF-2016-0028

Author: Sarah Tudor

Topics: House of Commons, House of Lords

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House of Lords Library

The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.