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Sir Giles Gilbert Scott

Architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott rebuilt the House of Commons Chamber after it was destroyed during the bombing in World War Two. He also designed the furniture and fittings for the House of Commons, including the chamber, the division lobbies, and other nearby spaces such as offices.

Use the arrows below to see a selection of Scott’s designs for the House of Commons.

The Designs of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott

Photograph of the outside of an architectural model made of wood and plastic. The outside is painted pale green, and the 'roof' is open so one could look inside. It is rectangular in shape, with a ledge on one deep side. Windows made of Perspex are set into the outside of the model.

Let’s start with the biggest of Scott’s designs – the Chamber itself.

This architectural model of the new House of Commons Chamber replicates Scott’s design specifications exactly. It is thought to have been made by John L Thorp. The model is made from wood and plastic.

Continue to see inside.

Architectural model, Commons Chamber Architectural model by Unknown © Architectural Fabric AFC 002211

Interior view of a very detailed architectural model. The model shows the dark wood carving and green benches of the Commons chamber. There is a small replica speaker's chair. The shot shows only part of the model - one end including some of the galleries and balconies overlooking the main chamber space.

The wood interior includes tiny details of the Gothic style carvings we see in the Chamber today.

The full-size wooden panels and tracery were laboriously hand-carved by master craftsmen in London, into English oak from Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Architectural model, Commons Chamber Architectural model by Unknown © Architectural Fabric AFC 002211

A shot of the model taken as if looking through one of the plastic windows. There is now a 'roof' on the model, complete with electric lighting turned on. The image is framed by the window frames, and shows a view of the wooden paneling and green seating of the chamber.

Every detail of the Chamber we know today is here. There are miniature versions of the Speaker’s chair and the iconic green benches. This miniature Commons also includes 52 plaster models of people – MPs, a Prime Minister and Clerks.

Electric lighting is even included to give the full effect. This photograph is taken through one of the model’s plastic windows.

Architectural model, Commons Chamber Architectural model by Unknown © Architectural Fabric AFC 002211

Interior view of an architectural model made of wood and plastic, and the outside is painted pale green. Photograph taken from above looking down at a 45 degree angle. The model is very detailed. There are tiny versions of the despatch boxes and the Speaker’s chair. The model shows the lower half of the Chamber is made of wood, with Gothic style carvings. The main feature is the green of the benches, and the matching green carpet.

Scott said of his new Chamber:

‘The Gothic detail of the old Chamber was lifeless and uninteresting, and the richness was spread evenly over the whole area without relief or contrast. It has been our endeavour to remedy this, with the result that, though still Gothic in style the effect will be entirely different from what existed before.’

Architectural model, Commons Chamber Architectural model by Unknown © Architectural Fabric AFC 002211

A large wooden table. The table top has a ribbon of inlay running around its edge. The inlay is a pattern of triangles, each in a different type of wood. Some are dark, others light, some red in tone, others yellow, brown and almost black. The vertical edge of the table top is carved with a repeating pattern of foliage.

The Prime Minister’s Conference Table was designed by Scott in 1950, and produced by furniture makers Green and Vardy.

Following World War 2, many Commonwealth countries gave pieces of furniture as gifts to the Houses of Parliament. These can be seen all over the Chamber and House, and are usually engraved with the name of the country which gave them.

Historic Tables by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott © Historic Furniture POW 07438

The corner detail of a large wooden table. The table top has a ribbon of inlay running around its edge. The inlay is a pattern of triangles, each in a different type of wood. Some are dark, others light, some red in tone, others yellow, brown and almost black. The vertical edge of the table top is carved with a repeating pattern of foliage.

The Prime Minister’s Conference Table was a gift from Canada and includes samples of woods from all the countries in the Commonwealth at the time, such as maple from Canada, native olive tree from Malta, and ebony from Sri Lanka.

The table is currently used in the Prime Minister’s Conference Room near the Commons Chamber.

Historic Tables by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott © Historic Furniture POW 07438

A rectangular wooden box with elaborate cast metal details on its top and sides. In the centre of the lid is a portcullis symbol. The metalwork above the lock shows an entwined ‘GE’ which stands for King George VI and his Queen, Elizabeth. There is a zig-zag pattern along the top front edge of the box. The box has a metal handle on each side.

Despatch boxes were originally used by MPs to carry documents into the Commons Chamber. Today you will find two that live permanently in the Chamber on the central table. They contain religious texts for the oath – which is when new MPs are sworn in. Frontbenchers (ministers and shadow ministers) deliver their addresses from their side’s despatch box.

The despatch boxes used today were gifts from New Zealand. Scott was able to base his design on the despatch boxes in the Australian Parliament. The Australian boxes were gifted to Australia by King George V in 1927 and based on AWN Pugin’s original despatch boxes for the House of Commons.

Despatch Boxes by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott © Historic Furniture POW 08066

A wooden desk with sets of three draws on either side, with space between for the user’s knees. Each set of draws has four legs, so the desk has eight legs in total. The vertical sides of the drawer cabinets are two carved panels with a central division. Each drawer front has a simple carved border around it. The handles are also wood.

This desk was designed by Scott for the Ministers’ Rooms in the new House of Commons. It was produced by Green and Vardy, who also provided tables and inkstands for the Palace.

The desk was a gift of Sierra Leone to the Commons, as part of gifts given by many Commonwealth countries after the war. It is made of African Gold Walnut.

Pedestal desk by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott © Historic Furniture POW 01773

A wooden chair with green fabric upholstery on the seat and back. In the centre of the back, on the fabric, is printed the portcullis symbol. The nails, which hold the fabric to the wood are visible. The chair has three stretchers (the horizontal supports between the legs), along its back and each side.

Scott produced a version of the Portcullis Chair for the new House of Commons, taking inspiration from those designed by AWN Pugin in the 1840s. There are some differences, such as the shape of the stretchers (the horizontal supports between the legs), the stepped detail on the legs, and the materials used.

Rather than leather, Scott used a wool fabric called Replin, chosen for its hard-wearing and moth and fire-proof qualities. It was made by British Replin Ltd in their factory in Ayr, Scotland. The same fabric is used for reupholstering the chairs today.

Historic Chairs by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott © Historic Furniture POW 1805

A wooden container with solid sides. It has four wide flat sides, and four are narrower and slightly convex. The container’s feet sit at the corners, at the base of the narrower panels, and follow their shape. The top edge of the container has a ribbon of two parallel carved bands around it.

Andrew A Pegram made coat stands, letter racks and waste paper baskets to Scott’s designs.

These small bins, referred to as ‘waste paper baskets’ on the original order, are part of the collection, and are still used around the Commons Chamber and in Commons offices.

Wastebaskets by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and Andrew A Pegram © Historic Furniture POW 01722

A wooden hat and umbrella stand. It has a flared, square base. There are two brass hoops on opposite sides of the stand, a third of the way up. Directly below them, in the base, are small brass wells. At the top of the stand four brass hooks are visible. The stand is on a green patterned carpet. On the wall behind it is a large black and white image of the Palace of Westminster.

You can find this design of hat and umbrella stand in offices and corridors in the Palace.

Pegram made the wooden body of the stand, while the brass hooks, wells and rings were manufactured by G Gibbons Ltd in Wolverhampton.

Hat and Coat Stands by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and Andrew A Pegram © Historic Furniture POW 01940

A wooden letter rack with six stepped compartments. The back of the rack is the tallest part, the front the shortest. The back of the rack has a simple, symmetrical cutaway shape on its top edge. The rack is pictured on a black cloth background.

These wooden letter racks were designed by Scott and also made by Andrew A Pegram in his London workshop. There are over 70 oak letter racks in the House of Commons today.

Letter Racks by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and Andrew A Pegram © Historic Furniture POW 01721

An electric lamp with an octagonal brass shade. The shade has a square geometric pattern running along its base. The lamp holder is carved wood with a button switch on its base. The lamp is illuminated and pictured on a dark background.

Scott designed oak lamps with brass shades for offices and the House of Commons division lobbies. A number were gifts from the Leeward Islands and Gibraltar, and this is engraved on the shade.

Lamps by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott © Historic Furniture POW 01781

Gold coloured rectangular ashtray. In the centre of the well is a raised rectangle. Around the sides are ribbons of decorative pattern. The ashtray is picture on a white background.

Scott designed some silver-gilt objects for the House of Commons, including letter racks, inkwells and ashtrays. Botswana, The Falkland Islands, The Gambia, Isle of Man, Zanzibar (now a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania), Lesotho (Basutoland), Malta, St Vincent and Swaziland all gave gifts of silver-gilt ashtrays to the House of Commons after World War 2.

They were made by Blunt & Wray Ltd, London, who had been making silver since 1889. The excellent condition of many of these ashtrays suggests they were not frequently used but were instead treated as display items.

Ashtray by Blunt & Wray Ltd and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott © Historic Furniture POW 10830

A wooden table. It has two supports at either end, which have a pierced design. This design is similar to the shapes window tracery, which are typical of Gothic architecture. There is a stretcher between the two supports, running parallel to the table top. The table is pictured on a green and gold, square-patterned carpet.

Throughout the 1950s areas of the House of Commons you will find various sizes and heights of this oak table, designed by Scott. The tabletop is on two supports at either end, with a pierced design influenced by the shapes of window tracery, typical of Gothic architecture.

Historic Tables by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott © Historic Furniture POW 01725

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