Houses of Parliament

The official name of the Houses of Parliament is Palace of Westminster. This is because it was the royal palace before the king moved to Whitehall Palace in 1529. Now the palace is home to the United Kingdom Parliament.

photo of the Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament, seen over Westminster Bridge

On 5 November 1605, some radical Catholics wanted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But they were not successful. Guards searched the cellars of the Palace and found 36 barrels of gunpowder. Every year on 5 November people commemorate Guy Fawkes Day (or Gunpowder Day) with fireworks and bonfires.

In 1834, a fire destroyed most of the palace. Between 1840 and 1888, Sir Charles Barry rebuilt the Palace of Westminster and also added the famous clocktower that everybody knows as Big Ben. Actually, it is only the name of the biggest bell in the clock tower, which rings the hour. Big Ben takes its name from Sir Benjamin Hall, who ordered the casting of the 16 ton bell in 1856.

Buckingham Palace