"Can't miss it" Houses of Parliament - Palace of Westminster Tip by leffe3

Not really a 'must see' as, if you spend any time in Central London, you can't miss it! Most people know it from the outside and particularly Big Ben, but there are tours of the inside - and the Victorian excesses of design really come home to you in the 'mother of parliaments'.

Built between 1840 and 1870, the Houses of Parliament replaced the old Palace of Westminster that was destroyed by fire in 1834. Part of the Palace, originally a royal residence from the 11th century, had been the meeting place for the forerunner of English parliaments since the 15th century.

When the fire destroyed the Palace, it was felt an appropriate building was required to be the centre of the British Empire and ?the mother of all parliaments?. So options to move to, among others, Buckingham Palace were firmly rejected (King William IV hated Buck House). What had survived the fire was quickly patched up for meetings with Charles Barry winning the commission for the new building, designed in the Gothic Perpendicular style (Barry was a hugely successful architect at the time, with a number of civic and private commissions and remodelling of country estates to his name. Parts of Harewood House, Cliveden, Trentham Hall, Highclere Castle bear the Barry stamp).

Not all the building follows the original design ? 30 years in the building and running over budget saw to that.

The single most famous aspect is Big Ben. It?s commonly believed that the name refers to the tower and clock, but in reality Big Ben is the heaviest of five bells within St Stephen?s Tower and behind the four clockfaces.

Touring the Houses of Parliament is possible but requires a degree of advance planning (theoretically you can buy tickets on the day of tours but that?s taking a big chance).

Guided tours are available on Saturdays and during recess periods (ie when Parliament is not sitting) in August and September. Tickets cost 14/ 6 (kids)/ 35 family (plus booking fee). Booked through Ticketmaster and are approximately 75 minutes long.

Attending a debate or committee meeting is free. They take place Mon-Thurs and on ?sitting Fridays?. You need to arrive at the Cromwell Green entrance approximately 2 hours before the beginning of the debate ? more if it?s a contentious discussion.

Address: Central London
Directions: Westminster tube
Phone: +44 20 7219 3000
Website: http://www.parliament.uk

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated Nov 23, 2010
  • Send to a Friend
  • Add to your Trip Planner
  • Report Abuse


leffe3 Used To Live Here!


“Be well, eat well - and laugh”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 1 6 5
Forum Rank:
0 0 7 5 6

Have you been to London?

  Share Your Travels