Secret walkway discovered in the House of Commons during restoration work

Ellena Cruse
A secret doorway that has been rediscovered in the House of Commons in London: PA

A secret 350-year-old doorway has been discovered in the House of Commons.

The entrance was found during restoration works and it is thought to date back to the 17th century.

Experts believe the hidden walkway had originally been created for Charles II’s coronation in 1660 as an easy way for guests to travel to the king’s celebratory banquet.

It was also thought to have been used by famous faces from the past including diarist Samuel Pepys and Robert Walpole.

Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle (left) being shown a secret doorway in the House of Commons (PA)

MPs used the corridor to access the commons before a fire destroyed much of its structure in the 19th century.

Only Westminster Hall – the oldest part of the palace, where the doorway was found – survived the blaze and was incorporated into Parliament’s neo-Gothic rebuild.

For the past 70 years, the entrance had remained forgotten behind wooden panelling in a cloister that was formerly used as offices by the Parliamentary Labour Party, according to Commons authorities.

A brass plate marks where the doorway had been in Westminster Hall, but historians thought it had been filled in during reconstruction work after the palace was bombed during the Second World War.

The doorway was created for the procession to the Coronation banquet of Charles II in 1661 (PA)

It was rediscovered following recent investigative work by Parliament’s architecture and heritage team who have been undertaking Westminster’s £4 billion restoration programme.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “To think that this walkway has been used by so many important people over the centuries is incredible.

“I am so proud of our staff for making this discovery and I really hope this space is celebrated for what it is – a part of our parliamentary history.”

Graffiti written by bricklayers who helped architect Sir Charles Barry restore the palace following the fire in 1834 was also discovered during the works.

One sentence of the graffiti, dated 1851, reads: “This room was enclosed by Tom Porter who was very fond of Ould Ale.”

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