The Houses of Parliament, otherwise known as The Palace of Westminster, stands on the site where Edward the Confessor had the original palace built in the first half of the eleventh century. In 1547 the royal residence was moved to Whitehall Palace, but the Lords continued to meet at Westminster, while the commons met in St. Stephen’s Chapel. Ever since these early times, the Palace of Westminster has been home to the English Parliament.
In 1834 a fire broke out which destroyed much of the old palace, all that remained was the chapel crypt, The Jewel Tower and Westminster Hall. It was Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, who saved the great hall by arranging for the fire engines to be brought right into the hall and personally supervising the fire fighting operation.
The magnificent Gothic Revival masterpiece you see today was built between 1840 and 1888, this was the work of Charles Barry who designed the buildings to blend with nearby Westminster Abbey. The two imposing towers, well known landmarks in London, are the clock tower, named after it’s thirteen ton bell called Big Ben, and Victoria tower, on who’s flag pole the Union Jack flies when parliament is sitting. Much of the Victorian detail of the interior was the work of Barry’s assistant Augustus Pugin.
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