Houses of History timeline

Houses of History timeline

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Houses of History

Key stages 3 & 4
Launch Houses of History

Journey through time with this playful, animated and interactive timeline. Houses of History tells the fascinating story of the Westminster Parliament.

You can track the shift in power from the monarch to the people, see the emergence of universal suffrage and explore the amazing history of the Palace of Westminster.

Launch Houses of History

Notes for Houses of History


With citizenship and history learning at its heart, the Houses of History timeline provides a stimulating and engaging account of the history of Parliament.

The building itself is a symbol of continuity and of change. This rich story - of our journey to democracy - unfolds through fun animations, authoritative yet readable articles, rich images from Parliament's art collection and engaging quotations from famous historical characters.

'We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.'
                                                    --Winston Churchill

The timeline

Scroll through one thousand years of history. Watch the Palace of Westminster grow out of a swamp into the iconic landmark we know today.

  • View images from Parliament's art collection showing the evolution of the building
  • Explore over fifty key events
  • Watch sixteen of the most significant moments brought to life through light-hearted animations


You can read more than fifty authoritative and engaging accounts of the story of Parliament.

  • Articles accompany the key events, complete with images, quotations and further links

Event themes

You can filter the events by theme to focus on significant political and social developments over time.

  • Events are tagged against eight themes that tie in closely with curriculum areas

My project

Ask your students to create a newspaper article, complete with images and quotations collected from the timeline.

  • Write your own newspaper headline, caption and article
  • Switch seamlessly between the timeline and your project as you research your article
  • Collect up to ten images and ten quotations from the timeline articles
  • Add your favourite image and quotation to the newspaper layout
  • Print your work or save your project locally and reload it

The newspaper tool is best exploited when students are tasked with a particular challenge. We've created example writing challenges for each theme. Each challenge is accompanied by a set of questions to focus the investigation and provide structure for the article.

Technical requirements

Houses of History requires version 10 or later of the free Flash plug-in (link opens in new window). The resource is best viewed with a fast internet connection due to the number of images and animations.


Instructions are available for both the timeline and newspaper tool.

  • Access the help screen by clicking the button marked '?' at the top right of the resource


Houses of History contains a wealth of images from Parliament's collection and other sources. Images are credited where possible within the resource and a full list of copyright information can be found below.


Eight ready-to-use writing challenges for students to get stuck in to.

Houses of History is a playful, exploratory resource, but also a research and creative writing tool. We suggest setting your students a task to investigate the timeline and write an article in the 'my project' area.

To get you started, we've created eight writing challenges to match the eight timeline themes. Each challenge sets the context for enquiry and supports the development of key skills including:

  • Reading for information
  • Finding out about the past
  • Analysing and evaluating information from different sources
  • Interpreting evidence and understanding changes that take place over a period of time

The writing challenges and newspaper tool support fiction and non-fiction writing and presentation skills including: discussion texts, explanatory texts, chronological and non-chronological reports, persuasion texts and recounts.


Challenge 1: Modern social reforms

1832 to 1918

It’s 1918 and Parliament has just passed the Representation of the People Act, also known as the Fourth Reform Act.  You’re a newspaper journalist and have been asked to write a story covering this historic event. You also need to provide an account of the background leading up to the Act.


Challenge 2: Women and the vote

1903 to 1918

It’s 1918 and women have just won the right to vote. You’re a newspaper journalist and have been asked to write a story covering this historic event. You also need to provide an account of the background leading up to this change in the law.


Challenge 3: Political campaigning

1807 to 1918

Why do people organise political campaigns? What difference can they make? It’s your job to write a persuasive article to convince people that participating in civic life by campaigning really can make a difference.


Challenge 4: The journey to democracy

1958 to 1999

It’s 1999 and an historic ruling in Parliament has changed the character of the House of Lords. You’re a newspaper journalist and have been asked to write a story covering this historic event.


Challenge 5: Votes for all

1918 to 1969

It’s 1969 and the voting laws for men and women have changed. You’re a newspaper journalist and have been asked to write a story covering this historic event. You also need to provide background leading up to the changes that came about in 1969.


Challenge 6: War and conflict

1628 to 1689

It’s 1649 and King Charles I has just been executed by Parliament. Organise your class into two camps: the Cavaliers are in favour of the king and monarchy; the Roundheads support Parliament. Each group must write a report about the beheading of King Charles I that reflects their own camp’s position. 


Challenge 7: A building for Parliament

1939 to 1945

It is 1945. After six years of fighting, the Second World War is over. The House of Commons has been destroyed in the Blitz. It’s your job to write a report about how Parliament responded to this crisis and how it chose to rebuild the Commons.


Challenge 8: The story of the Union

1536 to 1999

A class of young people from America are learning about the history of the United Kingdom. Write a short article identifying the key dates and events that led to the union between the four nations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Challenge template

Use this template to create your own writing challenges.


Curriculum links

Houses of History supports citizenship and history learning at key stages 3 and 4.

England > Key stage 3 > Citizenship

Key concepts

  • 1.1 Democracy and justice
  • 1.2 Rights and responsibilities

Range and content

  • 1.3a Political, legal and human rights, and responsibilities of citizens

England > Key stage 3 > History

Key concepts

1.1 Chronological understanding

  • c. Building a chronological framework of periods and using this to place new knowledge in its historical context

1.3 Change and continuity

  • a. Identifying and explaining change and continuity within and across periods of history.

1.4 Cause and consequence

  • a. Analysing and explaining the reasons for, and results of, historical events, situations and changes.

1.5 Significance

  • a. Considering the significance of events, people and developments in their historical context and in the present day.

1.6 Interpretation

  • c. Evaluating a range of interpretations of the past to assess their validity.

Key processes

2.1 Historical enquiry

  • a. Identify and investigate, individually and as part of a team, specific historical questions or issues, making and testing hypotheses
  • b. Reflect critically on historical questions or issues

2.2 Using evidence

  • a. Identify, select and use a range of historical sources, including textual, visual and oral sources, artefacts and the historic environment
  • b. Evaluate the sources used in order to reach reasoned conclusions

2.3 Communicating about the past

  • a. Present and organise accounts and explanations about the past that are coherent, structured and substantiated, using chronological conventions and historical vocabulary
  • b. Communicate their knowledge and understanding of history in a variety of ways, using chronological conventions and historical vocabulary

Breadth and content

British history

  • a. The development of political power from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, including changes in the relationship between rulers and ruled over time, the changing relationship between the crown and parliament, and the development of democracy
  • b. The different histories and changing relationships through time of the peoples of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
  • d. The way in which the lives, beliefs, ideas and attitudes of people in Britain have changed over time and the factors – such as technology, economic development, war, religion and culture – that have driven these changes

Northern Ireland > Key stage 3 > Environment and society > History

Knowledge, understanding and skills

  • Investigate the past and its impact on our world today through understanding of: cause and effect; continuity and change; progression  and regression
  • Enquiry skills to undertake historical investigations
  • Critical thinking skills to evaluate a range of evidence and appreciate different interpretations
  • Chronological awareness and the ability to make connections between historical periods, events and turning points


Developing pupils as individuals (objective 1)

  • Explore how history has affected their personal identity, culture and lifestyle (personal understanding)
  • Investigate individuals who are considered to have taken a significant moral stand and examine their motivation and legacy (mutual understanding)
  • Explore issues related to spiritual awareness (spiritual awareness)

Developing pupils as contributors to society (objective 2)

  • Investigate critical issues in history or historical figures who have behaved ethically or unethically (ethical awareness)

Learning outcomes

  • Research and mange information effectively to investigate historical issues, using mathematics and ICT where appropriate
  • Show deeper historical understanding by thinking critically and flexibly, solving problems and making informed decisions, using mathematics and ICT where appropriate
  • Demonstrate creativity and initiative when developing ideas and following them through

Wales > Key stage 3 > History


Chronological awareness

  • 1. Use a range of chronological frameworks
  • 2. Explain links between people, events and changes within and across the periods studied

Historical knowledge and understanding

  • 2. Describe, analyse and explain patterns and relationships, eg the causes and consequences of the historical events, situations and changes studied
  • 3. Evaluate the significance of the main events, people and changes studied

Historical enquiry

  • 3. Independently use a range of historical sources in their historical context, including documents, artefacts, visual sources, buildings and sites, music and oral accounts, statistical and numerical data, interpretations and representations, and a variety of ICT sources
  • 4. Select and summarise information accurately from sources
  • 5. Record and evaluate the information acquired, reaching reasoned conclusions

Organisation and communication

  • 1. Select, recall and organise historical information with increasing independence and accuracy
  • 2. Begin to organise ideas and arguments to help them to understand the historical issues and developments studied
  • 3. Use the necessary vocabulary to communicate findings, ideas and opinions with increasing independence in a variety of ways, including extended writing, graphs, charts, diagrams, visual and oral presentations and a range of ICT


Explore and interpret the following historical contexts in chronological order:

  • How the coming of the Normans affected Wales and Britain between 1000 and 1500
  • The change and conflict in Wales and Britain between 1500 and 1760
  • The changes that happened in Wales, Britain and the wider world between 1760 and 1914 and people’s reactions to them
  • How some twentieth century individuals and events have shaped our world today

Carry out:

  • Investigations into historical issues on a range of scales, from the local to the international

Scotland > Curriculum for excellence > Social studies > Experiences and outcomes > Third and fourth levels

People, past events and societies

  • I can use my knowledge of a historical period to interpret the evidence and present an informed view (SOC3-01a)
  • I have developed a sense of my heritage and identity as a British, European or global citizen and can present arguments about the importance of respecting the heritage and identity of others (SOC4-02a)
  • By studying groups in past societies who experienced inequality, I can explain the reasons for the inequality and evaluate how groups or individuals addressed it (SOC4-04a)
  • I can describe the main features of conflicting world belief systems in the past and can present informed views on the consequences of such conflict for societies then and since (SOC4-04b)
  • I can make reasoned judgements about how the exercise of power affects the rights and responsibilities of citizens by comparing a more democratic and a less democratic society (SOC4-04c)
  • Having critically analysed a significant historical event, I can assess the relative importance of factors contributing to the event (SOC4-06a)
  • I can express an informed view about the changing nature of conflict over time, appreciate its impact and empathise with the experiences of those involved (SOC4-06b)
  • I can assess the impact for those involved in a specific instance of the expansion of power and influence in the past (SOC4-06d)


Educational games

  • Play MP For A Week

    Could you cut it as an MP? Designed for 11-16 year-olds, this game drops you into the shoes of a backbencher.

  • Play Race Against Chime

    Dangling from the world’s most famous clock you’ll need to clean its face before time expires.

Updates for teachers