Parliament: The political institution
Parliament, as a political institution, has developed over hundreds of years. During that period the two distinct Houses – Commons and Lords – emerged and the balance of power between Parliament and the monarchy changed dramatically.
Parliament: The building
Where Parliament now stands has been a centre of authority for over a thousand years. Once the home of the royal family, and still officially a royal palace, the buildings that now make up the modern Houses of Parliament have developed through design, accident, and attack.
The name Big Ben is often used to describe the tower, the clock, and the bell, but the name was first given to the Great Bell. 1859 was the beginning for all three elements when the Clock Tower was completed, the Great Clock started on 31 May, and the Great Bell’s chimes were heard for the first time on 11 July.
The Clock Tower owes its existence to a fire in 1834 that destroyed most of Parliament. It was completed in 1859 and Parliament celebrates its 150th anniversary during 2009.
Over nine hundred years old and with the largest medieval roof in Northern Europe, Westminster Hall has survived bombs and fire and seen trials, banquets and more throughout the ages.
Westminster Hall is the only major part of the ancient Palace of Westminster which survives in its original form.
The hall was built from 1097-99 on the orders of William Rufus, son of William the Conqueror. Today it is often used for important events and state occasions, such as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.
To know more, visit the Offical Parliament Website.