Houses of Parliament (Great Britain) Quick Facts


Here’s some basic information about the two Houses of Parliament in Great Britain, located on the River Thames in London.

The meeting place of Great Britain’s bicameral legislature – consisting of the House of Commons and the House of Lords – is also known as the Palace of Westminster.

Visitors are subject to airport-style security checks.

Security technology, such as CCTV cameras and alarms, are used throughout the property.

In addition to unarmed security officers, there are also armed police officers in the building.

11th century – The original palace was built.

1604-1605 – A group of English Catholics, including Guy Fawkes, plot to blow up Parliament in protest of their treatment by Protestants. However, the plot was revealed and the conspirators were hanged. November 5th is still celebrated in England as “Guy Fawkes Day”, when people celebrate with bonfires and fireworks and burn statues of Fox.

October 16, 1834 – A fire destroyed most of the building.

1840 – Construction begins in the current Houses of Parliament.

1852 – House of Commons was first used.

1870 – Construction completed.

May 11, 1941 – The House of Commons Chamber was destroyed in bombings during World War II. It was rebuilt by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.

1950 – The rebuilding of the House of Commons has been completed.

1987 – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designates the building as a World Heritage Site.

2000 – Portcullis House, a new Parliament building, has been completed.

February 2001 – Portcullis House officially opens.

June 18 2015 – An independent commission issues a report outlining the need for extensive repairs throughout the historic complex. Issues that need attention include wiring problems, loose asbestos, and mice. The principal architect of both houses of Parliament told the BBC, “Some facades are already sinking and we will have to investigate that soon.”

March 22, 2017 – Khaled Masoud plows a car into crowds on Westminster Bridge in central London before trying to storm the Houses of Parliament in what police believe is an Islamist-inspired act of terrorism. Four people were killed, including a police officer, and dozens were injured before he was shot and killed by police.

August 14, 2018 – Several people were injured after a car crashed into security barriers outside the Houses of Parliament during rush hour. The driver was arrested on suspicion of terrorist crimes. He was later identified as Salih Khater, a 29-year-old British national who immigrated from Sudan. Khater was later convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison for a minimum of 15 years.

April 24, 2020 – Parliament publishes a report outlining each stage of work to be completed in the restoration and renovation program of the Palace of Westminster. This follows the approval of the Parliamentary Buildings (Renovation and Renovation) Act 2019 on 8 October.

April 21, 2020-July 22, 2021 – In response to the coronavirus pandemic, both houses of Parliament have put social distancing and other temporary measures into place as needed. The measures have been extended until July 22, the start of the summer recess for both houses of parliament.

Designers/Architects – Sir Charles Barry with Augustus Welby Pugin. Barry won a competition to be the architect.

It consists of four floors:
– Ground floor – offices, riverside homes, meeting rooms and dining halls.
– First floor – more dining rooms, chambers of the House of Commons, House of Lords and libraries.
– The second and third floors – committee rooms.

One end of the palace contains a private area for the speaker and at the other end a space for the Lord Chancellor.

Made of limestone with iron roof.

Three large towers, Elizabeth Tower (316 feet high, holding Big Ben), Victoria Tower (323 feet), and Central Tower (300 feet)

The main entrance is called St. Stephen’s Hall which leads directly to the central lobby or octagon hall. This area is open to the public.

Parliament took possession of neighboring buildings as needed, including the Parliament Street buildings and the Norman Shaw buildings north and south.

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