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Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster is the home of both Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom. Buildings have occupied the site since at least Saxon times, though the oldest buildings still in existence date from around 1097. On January 20, 1295 the first meeting of the first English parliament was conducted here.


19th Century view of the Palace of Westminster from Westminster Bridge
It was originally a Royal Palace, which led to the area becoming the centre of government in the United Kingdom as it transitioned from a monarchy to a parliamentary democracy[?]. The House of Commons made its first permanent home at St Stephen's Chapel, a part of the palace.

Much of the complex was destroyed by fire on October 16, 1834, and rebuilt by 1870, when the Houses of Parliament moved into their current residences.

On May 11, 1812, Prime Minster Spencer Perceval was assassinated by a bankrupt banker in the lobby of the House of Commons.

During World War II the House of Commons was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in a May 10, 1941 air raid[?], but was rebuilt and resumed use on October 26, 1950.

The current complex occupies approximately 3.24 hectares (8 acres), with 265.8 metres (872ft) of waterfront along the river Thames. It contains 1000 rooms, 100 staircases, and two miles of passageways.

The design was the result of a national competition, and was the work of Augustus Pugin and Charles Barry. The building is built from Anstone, a sandy magnesian limestone quarried in the village of Anston near Rotherham, South Yorkshire. The stone blocks were originally laid with the strata the wrong way, and had to be replaced in 1902.

The 320ft high clock-tower is the most famous feature, and houses the bell known as Big Ben.



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