The Palace of Westminster, better known as the Houses of Parliament is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of Parliament of the UK.
The first royal palace was built on the site in the 11 Century and Westminster was the primary London residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512.
After that, it served as the home of Parliament, which had been meeting there since the 13 Century and the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in and around Westminster Hall. In 1834, an even greater fire ravaged the heavily rebuilt House of Parliament and the only structures of significance to survive were Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephen’s. The Chapel of St Mary Undercroft and the Jewel Tower.
The architect Sir Charles Barry designed the building in the Gothic style. Barry was assisted by Augustus W Pugin, a leading authority on Gothic architecture and style, who provided the designs for the decoration and furnishings of the Palace.
Construction started in 1840 and lasted for 30 years, suffering great delays and cost overruns, as well as the death of both leading architects.
The Palace of Westminster has been a Grade 1 Listed building since 1970 and part of a Unesco World Heritage site since 1987.