Photo © Andrew Dunn September 2004
Edward the Confessor built the first Palace of Westminster on this site in 1049. After Edward's death, William the Conqueror took possession. The Houses of Parliament was a Royal Palace, occupied by kings, from Edward the Confessor to Henry VIII . In 1512 the Palace was damaged by a fire, and ceased to be a royal residence but remained nonetheless the administrative centre of the kingdom.
Westminster Hall is the oldest surviving part of the building, built in 1097 by William Rufus. The roof of the Hall was damaged by fire in 1941.
The palace building is constructed of limestone and has an iron roof. It has 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases, 2 miles of corridors and covers 8 acres of land. The most famous features of the Palace are the towers. Victoria Tower at one end, stands at 336 feet and St. Stephen's Tower, known as The Clock Tower rises 320 feet. The bell (Big Ben) weighs 13 tons and the clock, still wound by hand, has minute hands that are 14 feet long.
For more on Westminster Palace see "A Guide to Westminster Palace"Return to Main Index