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The Virgin Islands is among the 16 overseas territories (OTs) and the three Crown Dependencies to have had their place in UK Parliamentary democracy immortalised with a depiction of each of their heraldic shields embedded in stained glass.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the works of art, unveiled on Tuesday May 9, would be a permanent and tangible reminder of the strong and close links between the UK and its wider family. He added that in his opinion, the OTs and dependencies have been overlooked for too long - yet many of the decisions made in the UK have a huge impact on their futures.
“They are important to me – they are part of our United Kingdom family - and I want to provide them with a platform on which to speak, to air their concerns, to share experiences and to enable us to learn from each other. From now on, every single person coming into the Speaker’s House will be reminded of how closely we are connected,” Sir Lindsay said.
Commenting on the event, Premier of the Virgin Islands, Honourable Dr. Natalio D. Wheatley said, “The depiction of the British Virgin Islands heraldic shield in this stained glass window serves as a symbol of our identity and history.”
The Premier added, “The recognition of our territorial symbol is important as it represents the Territory and people who are integral to our identity. We are pleased with this acknowledgement of the importance of the Territory and its people, honouring their contributions to our shared history and heritage.”
The stained glass windows feature coats of arms from Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Anguilla, Ascension, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territories, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, St Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
Each of the window lancets displays the coats of arms delineated in a circle, and one lancet shows the group of arms linked by an intertwining rose and leaf pattern to the coat of arms of Sir Lindsay. This features three Lancashire roses, bees from his home village of Adlington in Lancashire, the key of Gibraltar and a Rugby League ball. The other group of arms is linked to those of John Evelyn Denison, the first Speaker to live in Speaker’s House (Speaker from 1857 to 1872).
The original windows dated from 1858 and possibly contained the arms of Speaker Denison. However, those windows have long since been removed and were replaced by plain, plate glass.
The new design, created by John Reyntiens Glass Studio - the same London-based stain-glassed window specialists who recently reglazed the Big Ben clock dials with new, mouth-blown glass – is sympathetic to the original Pugin-inspired windows and décor at the entrance to Speaker’s House.
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