Palace of Westminster: Facts About the Houses of Parliament

Here are some facts about the Palace of Westminster.

  • The Palace of Westminster, usually called the Houses of Parliament, is situated alongside the River Thames in Westminster, London. Britain’s Members of Parliament meet here.

  • The building was designed by architect Charles Barry and built in the 1840s, replacing an earlier building destroyed by fire. The complex of buildings covers 8 acres and has over 1,100 rooms.
  • Big Ben is the name of the huge bell in the Elizabeth Clock Tower. The clock’s mechanism is regulated by adding pennies for weight, and the 4 clock faces are each 23 feet across.
  • No animals are allowed into the Palace of Westminster, other than seeing eye dogs. However, the huge building is said to be overrun with mice.
  • The Hall of Westminster is the oldest surviving part of the original building and has the largest Medieval roof in England. At one time, Britain’s kings and queens lived here.
  • The building contains over 100 staircases and 3 miles of corridor. It has its own gymnasium, shooting range and hair salon.
  • The Palace of Westminster is known for its centuries old traditions. In the lifts are hooks designed for hanging swords on and some floor markings are designed to be 2 sword lengths apart.
  • The Royal Gallery is one of the largest rooms. It is used for important dinners, receptions and ceremonies. In the past, it was used for trials.
  • The Lord’s Chamber where the House of Lords meets is the palace’s most lavishly decorated room. However, the Lord Speaker sits on a large sack of wool, representing Britain’s wool trade.
  • The Commons Chamber, where members of Parliament meet, is decorated in green, according to an old tradition. It also contains furnishings from Commonwealth countries including Canada and Australia.

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