The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.
Its name, which derives from the neighbouring Westminster Abbey, may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a medieval building-complex destroyed by fire in 1834, or its replacement, the New Palace that stands today. The palace is owned by the monarch in right of the Crown and, for ceremonial purposes, retains its original status as a royal residence. Committees appointed by both houses manage the building and report to the Speaker of the House of Commons and to the Lord Speaker.
In the middle of the eleventh century, King Edward the Confessor had moved his court to the Palace of Westminster, situated on a central site near the river Thames. In 1265 a parliament was created with two houses: the Lords and the Commons. The House of Lords met at the Palace of Westminster while the House of Commons did not have a permanent location. After King Henry VIII moved his court to Whitehall Palace in 1530, the House of Lords continued to meet in Westminster. In 1547 the House of Commons also moved here, confirming Westminster as the central seat of government, a position it still holds today.
In 1834 a fire destroyed the Palace of Westminster, leaving only the Jewel Tower, the crypt and cloister of St. Stephens and Westminster Hall intact. After the fire, a competition was organized to create a new building for the two houses of parliament. A design by Sir Charles Barry and his assistant Augustus Welby Pugin was chosen from ninety-seven entries. They created a large but balanced complex in neo-Gothic style and incorporated the buildings that survived the fire. The whole complex was finished in 1870, more than thirty years after construction started. It includes the Clock Tower, Victoria Tower, House of Commons, House of Lords, Westminster Hall and the Lobbies.
A View on Cities