Portcullis House is one of the latest additions to the complex of Westminster government buildings. It was opened in 2001 and accommodates offices for around 200 members of Parliament and their entourage.
The building is named after the chained portcullis that is printed on all letterheads and official documents used by government officials. Tourists and members of the public are welcome to visit the first floor of the building, where Committee sessions are held. The proceedings inside the rooms are broadcast directly via BBC Parliament and via parliamentlive.tv.
Even though Portcullis House has been built only recently, its design reminds of Victorian Gothic times, with its rows of tall chimneys intended to blend in with the chimneys of the Norman Shaw building next door. The exposed metal on the roof and walls consists of aluminium bronze.
The entrance is guarded by police, and all visitors must submit their bags and coats for X-raying, and pass through a metal detector. A thick slab of concrete is designed to insulate Portcullis House from any potential bomb attacks staged from within the adjacent Underground station.
When you visit Portcullis House, be sure to admire the 12 fig trees in the indoor courtyard. They have been the source of some controversy because an inquiry into Parliamentary expenses revealed that they were rented trees and had raked up a bill of near enough £400,000 over a period of just over ten years.
Tube stations near Portcullis House
- St James Tube station – 8 minutes walk (Circle, District lines)
- Embankment Tube station – 8 minutes walk (Bakerloo, Circle, District, Northern lines)
- Charing Cross Tube station – 9 minutes walk (Bakerloo, Northern lines)
Parking near Portcullis House London
- Q-Park Westminster Great College Street – 7 minutes on foot
- U park Addington Street – 10 minutes on foot
- Southbank Centre (Hungerford Bridge) – 10 minutes on foot
Things to see and do near Portcullis House
Portcullis House is located at the intersection of numerous remarkable spots and buildings.
Westminster Bridge is a stone’s throw away. The bridge, with its vibrant blue and white colours, is positioned between the Houses of Parliament and County Hall and connects to the Southbank Centre and the National Theatre.
Big Ben is also just around the corner. This is probably the world’s most famous clock tower and bell. It is named after Sir Benjamin Hall, who commissioned it. It weighs 13.7 tonnes.
The Houses of Parliament are accessible to the public, and when Parliament is in session, ordinary folk are even allowed to directly watch debates. Visitors do not need tickets in advance but may have to queue. To watch Prime Minister’s Question Time (every Wednesday at noon, when Parliament is sitting) it’s advisable to get tickets in advance.
Shopping near Portcullis House
There are plenty of high street shops near Portcullis House, including:
- Boots – the chemist (1 minute walk)
- Jigsaw – ladies fashion (1 minute walk)
- Next – casual fashion (2 minute walk)
- Goldsmiths – chain jeweller specialising in diamonds (1 minute walk)
1. Is Portcullis House open to the public?
Yes, the first floor of Portcullis House is open to the public.