The clock tower of the Houses of Parliament is an icon both of Parliament and of Britain, but in fact it is a relatively small part of a sprawling complex with a fascinating history. Over several hundred years, the British Parliament has developed from a mobile assembly gathered at the king's behest into a static Westminster-based body that has variously challenged, checked and bolstered royal authority. Richard Tames here offers an introduction to the thousand-year development of the Palace of Westminster, the evolution of the parliamentary system, how legislation passes through the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and the role of the monarch. He also explains such traditions as the State Opening, the role of the Mace and of officials such as the speakers and Black Rod.
Richard Tames read history at the University of Cambridge and took his Master's degree at Birkbeck College, London. He teaches for Syracuse University's London programme and has written Isambard Kingdom Brunel, William Morris and The Victorian Public House for Shire.