The present Tynwald Chamber was built between 1891 and 1894 to designs prepared by the architect Mr James Cowle, of Douglas. It was first used on 20th December 1894 and replaced the Chamber in Douglas Court House which had been used regularly since 1866 when legislative business was effectively transferred from Castle Rushen in Castletown.
The Legislative Council sit at a raised bench with the Keys sitting in the well of the Court. The Sword of State, which represents the authority of the Court, rests on the table in the centre of the Chamber when Tynwald Court is sitting.
The impressive carpet was manufactured by Quayles of Kidderminster, a family firm with Manx connections. The colour, royal blue, was chosen in 1979 after consultation with HM Queen Elizabeth II as to her preferred colour.
The historic seat of the Manx Legislature and Executive was in Castletown. There the House of Keys met in Castle Rushen until 1706. In 1709 they moved to a building on the east side of the Castle. This was used until 1818 when, due to its disrepair, the Keys retired to the George Inn which they termed "highly improper" for a body of "so much importance".
A new building was subsequently erected on the old site of the Keys building and this was used until 1874, though from the 1860s the Keys had transferred most of their sittings to Douglas and met in the former Douglas Court House. The Court House proved too small and in 1879 the Keys moved to the present building which was part of the premises of the Bank of Mona and was acquired from the liquidator of the Bank for £3,700. After some refurbishment, the first sitting in this Chamber took place on 2nd December 1881. The House of Keys Chamber is situated in what was the main banking hall of the Bank of Mona, directly below the Legislative Council Chamber. The remainder of the building, including the distinctive "wedding cake" was, and remains, a part of Government Offices.
The present Chamber has undergone many alterations. The seating arrangement that had been in use since 1932 has been replaced following the 2016 General Election to reflect the new twelve constituencies.
In the desk in front of the Chaplain's seat is a book containing the names of all known members of the House from 1417.
The snuff box on the Speaker's desk dates from 1863. In earlier times when Members sat around a large table the snuff box was circulated. It is ornamented from the horns of a Loaghtan ram; Loaghtan sheep are a native Manx breed. The snuff box is still kept filled for the use of Members.
Around the walls of the Chamber hang portraits of former Speakers.
The Legislative Council has its origins in the King of Man's Council of personal advisers. The Lord's Council, as it became, met in Castletown in that part of Castle Rushen which was adjacent to the present Court House. Major alterations to the Castle, particularly in the nineteenth century, now make its exact location uncertain.
From the 1860s, Governors experienced various difficulties with their personal accommodation and the practice developed of the Council attending on the Governor at places convenient to his residence. Often this was in the Court House in Douglas, although various attempts were made by the Deemsters to re-establish Castletown as the permanent venue for the sittings. When the present building was acquired from the Bank of Mona in 1879, the Legislative Council was accommodated on the floor above the Keys Chamber.
The Legislative Council Chamber has been remarkably little altered since it has been occupied by the Council. The Chamber is panelled in oak and the stained glass window in the north wall contains the Manx arms and the armorial bearings of the English Crown. Among the framed photographs which hang in the Chamber are photographs of all past Presidents of the Legislative Council who have presided over the Council in the present Chamber. As the Lieutenant Governor presided ex officio over the Council until 1980, they include photographs of all the Lieutenant Governors from Lord Loch, who was Lieutenant Governor from 1863 to 1882, to Rear Admiral Sir Nigel Cecil, who was appointed in 1980. In 1980, by virtue of the Constitution (Legislative Council) Amendment Act 1980, the Council elected a President from their own members. The photographs of the elected Presidents, the Hon J A C K Nivison CBE and R J G Anderson, also hang in the Chamber.
The Council sit at a semi-circular table in the centre of which is the President's Chair, which was presented by the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia in celebration of the millennium of Tynwald. To the right and left of the President sit, respectively, the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man and HM Attorney General for the Isle of Man. The remaining members are seated in order of seniority, the more recently elected members sitting furthest from the President.