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The Biggest DIY project of gargantuan proportions, will take place over coming years

The Palace of Westminster today with portcullis house reflecting off the river Thames. 

To many it is a one the most iconic buildings associated with the evolution democracy and of modern civil rights ,over the past few hundred years. The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the northern bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London. Its name, which derives from the neighbouring Westminster Abbey, may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex that was destroyed by fire in 1834, and its replacement, the New Palace that stands today. For ceremonial purposes, the palace retains its original style and status as a royal residence and is the property of the Crown.

The Palace of Westminster site was strategically important during the Middle Ages, as it was located on the banks of the River Thames. Known in medieval times as Thorney Island, the site may have been first-used for a royal residence by Canute the Great during his reign from 1016 to 1035. St Edward the Confessor, the penultimate Anglo-Saxon monarch of England, built a royal palace on Thorney Island just west of the City of London at about the same time as he built Westminster Abbey (1045–50). Thorney Island and the surrounding area soon became known as Westminster (a contraction of the words West Minster). Neither the buildings used by the Anglo-Saxons nor those used by William I survive. The oldest existing part of the Palace (Westminster Hall) dates from the reign of William I's successor, King William II.

The Palace of Westminster on fire in 1834
the great fire in 1834 depicted in the painting by Turner

Since 1834, the building has weathered the British climate and seen countless prime minster elected and monarchs take the throne.Not forgetting visiting, heads of states ,from all over the globe.

US President Barack Obama (right) in the Members' Lobby during a tour of the Palace in May 2011. With him are, from the left: the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Marquess of Cholmondeley, holding his white staff of office; the Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman; and the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

Narendra Modi Prime minster of India ,speech to UK Parliament , during 2015 state visit.

Today Functions of the UK Parliament are to:

  • Check and challenge the work of the Government (scrutiny)
  • Make and change laws (legislation)
  • Debate the important issues of the day (debating) 
  • Check and approve Government spending (budget/taxes)
  • Parliament is made up of three central elements: the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Monarchy. The main business of Parliament takes place in the two Houses. Generally the decisions made in one House have to be approved by the other.

Design and Architecture 
The Palace of Westminster owes its stunning Gothic architecture to the 19th-century architect Sir Charles Barry. Now Grade I listed, and part of an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palace contains a fascinating mixture of both ancient and modern buildings, and houses an iconic collection of furnishings, archives and works of art. Find out more about the history and features of this magnificent building.

intricate stone work , leaded windows with supporting stone frames 

The Palace of Westminster was built with a sand-coloured limestone from the Anston Quarry in Yorkshire. In 1839, a committee including the architect Charles Barry, two leading geologists and a stone carver toured the country looking at quarries and buildings. Anston stone was chosen because it was cheaper and could be supplied in blocks up to four feet thick and lent itself to elaborate carving [pictured below].

However, the stone quickly began to decay as a result of atmospheric pollution from coal burning in London and the poor quality of the material used. Although these defects in the choice of stone were visible as early as 1849, very little was done to prevent its decline during the 19th century. Barry himself experimented with various compositions on the stone and believed that the decay had been halted.


During the 1920s, it was clear that something had to be done, especially when a large fragment fell off the Victoria Tower and members on the Terrace were advised to sit near the river rather than underneath the main wall of the building. In 1928, it was deemed necessary to use Clipsham stone, a honey-coloured limestone from the Medwells Quarry in Rutland, to replace the decayed Anston. A restoration project began in the 1930s, but it was brought to a halt during the Second World War and was completed only in 1960.

The effects of these repair works and the addition of new stone nevertheless began to make the Palace appear like a patchwork quilt. By the 1960s, questions about it were being asked in the House of Commons.

By the 1970s, the effects of pollution were again visible, and a new programme of stone-cleaning and restoration was started in 1981: the north, west, and south fronts, the river front and the Clock Tower were completed by 1986. The Victoria Tower, whose cleaning was completed in 1994, was the last part of the exterior to be dealt with. Of the inner courts, the Speaker's Court was the first to be tackled, with the work beginning in January 1994.

Historic legislation recently passed,  included the housing and planning bill that will reform the entire UK property industry from the jailing of rogue landlords to the building of more affordable housing to meeting the demands of population growth.

This world famous building which some people regard more highly than the politics conducted in it, but to steal a phrase from an old song, The Houses of Parliament are falling down the video below outlines what renovations need to be done and why the £3 Billion project is worth every penny.

Further Reading 

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Newly Elected Labour Candidate, for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, outlines his Housing Policies

What Jeremy Corbyn's leadership victory may mean for housing policy in the UK

Marie's Question >Jeremy Corbyn The New Labour Leader takes his seat in the Houses of Parliament

Building Markets for the Good of People > BoE Open Forum

Government ministers and housing association leaders have negotiated a deal to extend the right-to-buy policy

Historic Housing and Planning Bill will transform generation rent into generation buy

How low can you go ? speech by Andy Haldane BoE Chief Economist

Three Truths about Finance - Governor of BoE - Mark Carney

Mortgage Lenders and Administrators statistics Bank of England Sept 2015

Osborne says tougher buy-to-let regulation on its way

House Prices will continue to rise & construction of more not the answer

Right To Buy Homes Urgent Parliament questions with Brandon Lewis UK housing Minster

Borrowing figures in the mortgage market remain strong as customers take advantage of record low interest rates

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Residential sales Move up despite lack of property Stock

Government ministers and housing association leaders have negotiated a deal to extend the right-to-buy policy