Exploring and experiencing London’s historic icons

Iconic London landmarks were on the itinerary for a group of 50 scholars as they enjoyed a fascinating guided tour of the Houses of Parliament, a boat trip down the River Thames, and thought-provoking lectures at the beautiful University of Greenwich.

Scholars made the journey from as far as Newcastle for our ‘Best of British Presents: Westminster event’ on Monday, 23 April. Events in the Best of British Presents series take place in the UK’s capital cities and focus on our different political institutions and cultural heritage.

Scholars in the Houses of Parliament

The day started with a guided walk around the UK’s corridors of power from Frank from the Houses of Parliament tour team. The tour took scholars through many areas of Parliament, demonstrating different aspects and traditions in the UK political process.

Scholars in Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament

Highlights included the Robing Room, where Her Majesty the Queen prepares for the annual State Opening of Parliament. Scholars stood amid the famous green benches of the House of Commons, where UK laws are debated and made by 650 elected Members of Parliament. They also witnessed the lavishly-decorated Lords Chamber, the second chamber of the UK Parliament, where the work of the government is checked and challenged. 

Scholars then boarded a boat at Westminster Pier for a trip down the River Thames to Greenwich. The cruise took scholars past historic and modern places of interest along the Thames, including Tower Bridge, the London Eye, and the many other tourist sights of the South Bank.

Scholars disembarked the boat in the shadow of the Cutty Sark at south-east London’s historic Greenwich, where Eastern and Western Hemispheres meet on the Greenwich Meridian line at longitude zero.

The University of Greenwich campus, our next stop, is on a World Heritage Site on the banks of the River Thames. The grand campus is centred on three baroque buildings designed by Sir Christopher Wren, one of Britain’s most distinguished architects, at the end of the 17th century.

Campus at the University of Greenwich

Here scholars listened to two fascinating talks from academics. Dr Claire Eustance, Senior Lecturer in History in the Department of History, Politics and Social Sciences at the University of Greenwich, was first to speak. In her talk, ‘It’s not all about the suffragettes’, Dr Eustance explored the diversity and the wider context of the suffragette movement in the UK throughout its history.

Dr Claire Eustance from the University of Greenwich

The day ended with a presentation from Jonnie Robinson, Lead Curator on Spoken English for the British Library. His talk explored and celebrated varieties of British English, testing scholars on their ability to recognise the diverse range of accents that make up a multicultural and modern United Kingdom.

Jonnie Robinson from the British Library

Tomas Otero, an Argentinian scholar studying MSc Business Intelligence and Analytics at the University of Westminster said: ‘I really enjoyed the tour of Parliament, and I think that visiting Greenwich was a great opportunity to get to know the university.

‘I enjoyed listening to the interesting talks about UK culture; I never knew there were so many ways to pronounce a word!’