Houses of Parliament

Houses of Parliament

The Palace of Westminster lies on the north bank of the Thames in the City of Westminster. It is also known as the Houses of Parliament.

The palace hosts sittings of the United Kingdom's two Houses of Parliament, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It is close to the government buildings in Whitehall.

Originally a royal residence, no monarch has lived at the palace since the 16th century. It contains nearly 1,200 rooms, 100 staircases and over two miles (three kilometres) of passages. The oldest part of the palace, Westminster Hall, dates from 1097.

Most of the existing structure was built in the 19th century. A fire in 1834 destroyed almost all of the palace expect for Westminster Hall, the crypt of St Stephen's Chapel and the nearby cloisters, and the Jewel Tower.

In 1836, Charles Barry won a public competition with his design proposal for the new palace building. Augustus Pugin assisted with the execution of the design and its construction.

Barry's Gothic revival design incorporated Westminster Hall and the remains of St Stephen's Chapel and the cloisters into the new palace. The site, extended into the Thames by land reclamation, covered nearly eight acres.

The palace foundation stone was laid in 1840. The Lords' Chamber was completed in 1847, and the Commons' Chamber in 1852. The building was not completed until 1870.

German bombing destroyed the House of Commons Chamber in 1941. In its reconstruction, architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott preserved the essential features of the original Barry design. The new chamber was completed in 1950.

Alternate Names

  • Palace of Westminster
  • Westminster Palace

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