With the General Election campaign in full flow, today’s Object of the Week is timely as it was once part of the structure of the country’s seat of democracy. This unusual piece of rubble is on display at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar – though how it came to be there is a mystery.

THE Houses of Parliament are typically synonymous with people’s notions of the United Kingdom.

The gunpowder plot of the early 17th century is the most commonly known event – or non-event, as it turned out.

Indeed, a quick Google search of ‘Houses of Parliament’ soon reveals related content focused on Guy Fawkes.

But within Parliament there have also been many instances of rousing speeches, heated debates, protests and suffragettes hiding in broom cupboards.

The Second World War isn’t the only time that Parliament has suffered major destruction. In 1834 a fire started in a kitchen that caused extensive damage. The artist JMW Turner was inspired to paint several canvasses of the catastrophe.

The Houses of Parliament, then, are steeped in history.

However, it is the historical events of the early 1940s we are concerned with here, as the object here is a piece of Parliament debris – a consequence of a particularly successful Nazi air raid in May 1941.

In many ways, the stone represents the battering of London – and Britain as a whole – through aerial attacks, and the damage that was inflicted, be it to architecture laced with history, or somewhat more morbidly, human life.

During 1942 to 1945, a company by the name of London Stonecraft Limited turned the shattered stone into souvenirs such as bookends, gardening pots, ash trays and letter racks, of which this is an example.

These were sold with a letter of authentication with most of the proceeds going to the Red Cross.

The rebuilding of the House of Commons was completed by 1950. King George VI was the present unelected representation of the ruling elite social class at the time and was present on that day.

Regardless, this stone – and many others that exist – represent Parliament’s war wounds, while Parliament as a piece of architecture, now stands broken, marginalised, crumbling and in need of serious repair in order to face the future.

Unfortunately for the British public, the politicians have given the country the exact same predicament.

How the object came to be on display in Kirkleatham Museum is something of a mystery.

The Teesside museum’s collections were broken up when Cleveland County Council was formed and collections were distributed to the new county councils.

This object has never had an accession number (Apart from maybe Hartlepool) or that the number has become divorced from the object and no one got around to giving it a T/UND (Teesside Unnumbered) number.

* Kirkleatham Museum is open from 10am until 4.30pm, Tuesday to Sunday (not open Mondays except bank holidays).