THIS week marks the 80th anniversary of the worst bombing raid of the London Blitz, and the “Blitz Relics”, which were incorporated into the New Parliament House building, are all on display together outside the Parliament House theatre to mark the occasion.
“The Blitz” was a seven-hour attack that destroyed Britain’s House of Commons chamber, and damaged Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace and, as early as October 1942, then Australian Prime Minister John Curtin was presented by the British government with relics salvaged from damaged and destroyed London landmarks.
The 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.
Among the treasures are also a small glass shield constructed from shards of smashed glass collected by librarians from the House of Commons’ library destroyed stained glass windows and a stone gargoyle from the House of Commons without a waterspout, nicknamed “Marmaduke”.
“Marmaduke” was a separate Blitz Relic gift to Australian parliament in 1983 by philanthropist Lorna Crowle. Originally purchased by her late husband William in a sale by the British government to raise funds for the House of Commons chamber reconstruction, it was donated on condition that it also be housed in the new Parliament House when the building was completed.
The Parliament House theatre, where the relics can be seen, is on level 1, Senate side of the public area.