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Australian Parliament House marks 80 years since the London Blitz ended

Monday, 10 May 2021 in Exhibition

Today is the 80th Anniversary of the worst bombing raid of the London Blitz, a seven-hour attack that destroyed Britain’s House of Commons Chamber, and damaged Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.

In October 1942 then Prime Minister John Curtin was presented by the British Government with relics salvaged from damaged and destroyed London landmarks which were attacked in the raids.

The Blitz Relics given to Australia include: 

  • Part of the fire-damaged brass grille from a door of the ‘No’ Division Lobby of the Chamber of the House of Commons, pieces of courtyard railings from near the main entrance gates of Buckingham Palace
  • Part of a wood beam of the vaulting of the Lantern Tower of Westminster Abbey, reconstructed by James Wyatt in 1804 then destroyed by enemy action.
  • A small glass shield constructed from shards of smashed glass collected by librarians from the House of Commons Library destroyed stain glass windows (for the parliamentary library).
  • A stone ‘grotesque’, a gargoyle without a waterspout, nicknamed ‘Marmaduke’ from House of Commons.

This was a separate Blitz Relic gift to Australian parliament in 1983 by philanthropist Mrs Lorna Crowle. ‘Marmaduke’ was originally purchased by her late husband William and was donated on condition that it also be housed in the new Parliament House when the building was completed. The grotesque was part of wreckage sold by the British Government soon after the Blitz to raise funds for the House of Commons Chamber reconstruction.

The Blitz Relics were incorporated into the New Parliament House building and are currently all on display together outside the Parliament House Theatre.

Image: John THOMAS - Stone gargoyle (figures from the House of Commons) 1834-1867 carved stone believed to be Bath Stone presented by Mrs Lorna Crowle to the Australian Government in 1983.

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