The Houses of Parliament
Part 2 of my walk: a shufti around the seat of government.
(Photos/words © urban75, 3rd March 2007)
The Palace of Westminster (aka the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace) is where the two Houses of the Parliament (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet to govern the UK.
The Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames right next to Westminster tube station and the adjacent river bridge.
The oldest part of the Palace (Westminster Hall) dates from 1097, while most of the present structure dates from the 19th century (after a disastrous fire in 1834).
Sir Charles Barry and the Gothic-loving Augustus Welby Pugin were responsible for rebuilding the Palace, with additional reconstruction work taking place in the 1940s after the palace was seriously damaged by WW2 bombs.
Built in the highly decorative Gothic revival style, the most striking feature of the Pugin designed Palace is clock tower which is often erroneously called Big Ben (in fact, that's the name of the main bell inside).
View from Victoria Tower Gardens showing, appropriately enough, the 102m (336ft) high Victoria Tower, which was considered to be the tallest in the world at the time it was built.
Victoria Tower Gardens were created in the 1870s by Joseph Bazalgette.
In the foreground is the Buxton Memorial Fountain erected in 1835 by Charles Buxton MP in commemoration of the 'Emancipation of Slaves' a year previously.
The memorial is dedicated to his father Thomas Fowell Buxton and also William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Henry Brougham and Stephen Lushington who all played a part in the abolition.
Designed by Gothic architect Samuel Sanders Teulon (1812-1873), the monument originally stood in Parliament Square before shimmying south to Victoria Tower Gardens in 1957.
Named after the office of the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod - who sounds like a cool dude - Black Rod's Garden is a private entrance and not for the likes of us common folk.
Palace of Westminster view with the 91 m (300 ft) spire of St. Stephen's Tower, also called the Central Tower.
It's surprising how close you can still get to Parliament.
Ornate entrance, Palace of Westminster.
Stature of Richard I of England I (8 September 1157 - 6 April 1199), also known as Richard the Lionheart, or Cæur de Leon.
Looking up the Victoria Tower, which is home to the Parliamentary Archives.
Statue of Oliver Cromwell. Near this spot in 1653 he was sworn in as Lord Protector.
The Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster is resplendent in the Victorian Gothic style, and stands 96.3 metres (316 feet) high.
The main bell, Big Ben (officially known as the Great Bell of Westminster), dates from 1858 and its soothing chimes were first heard on a BBC radio broadcast on the 31st December 1923.
Each of the four illuminated dials are 23 feet square, with the minute hand measuring up at 14 feet long.
Churchill statue, famously given a turf mohican during the Mayday protests of 2000.
Despite several legal efforts to kick him off, peace protestor Brian Haw continues his protest in Parliament Square.
The rather 'challenging' vista of the 2001 Portcullis House, situated across the road from the Palace of Westminster.
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