Possible remains of the original medieval Thames River wall have been unearthed during investigations at the Palace of Westminster.
Since January last year, an extensive programme of sensitive building investigations has been carried out by the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, ahead of essential restoration work.
As part of the investigations, specialists have drilled boreholes up to 70 metres deep around the Palace in order to assess ground conditions.
The wall section was discovered during a borehole investigation in Chancellor’s Court, near the House of Lords chamber, and assessed by archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA).
The structure, situated on the original medieval course of the Thames riverside, is likely to be at least 700 years old.
It is made from Kentish Ragstone, a hard grey limestone quarried from Kent that was also used in the construction of Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.
In 1834, a fire broke out in the Palace, destroying many of its buildings. During its reconstruction, the site of the Palace was expanded with land reclaimed from the riverbank.
This is likely the second section of the original wall to be found running underneath Parliament. The first was identified in Black Rod’s Garden in 2015, when medieval timber structures thought to be waterfront revetments (used to protect against erosion) were unearthed.
A small amount of material from the wall, along with ground samples from around the Palace, have been removed for analysis, and the site of the wall has since been covered over.
‘The Palace of Westminster is a treasure trove of history, and making sure this is properly conserved whilst also getting on with the vital job of restoring this unique place is a key priority,’ said Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons.