The New International Encyclopædia/Parliament, Houses of

2373789The New International Encyclopædia — Parliament, Houses of

PARLIAMENT, Houses of, or New Palace of Westminster. The seat of the British legislature, a great mass of buildings on the Thames in London, built at a cost of $15,000,000 after plans by Sir Charles Barry on the site of the previous building, which was destroyed by fire in 1834. The edifice covers an area of eight acres, and contains 1100 apartments, 100 staircases, and 11 courts. The exterior, in rich late-Gothic style, is made impressive by three massive towers: Victoria Tower, 340 feet high; Middle Tower, 300 feet high; and Saint Stephen's or the Clock Tower, 318 feet high. The latter contains a clock with dials 23 feet in diameter, and a great bell, ‘Big Ben,’ weighing 13 tons. The interior is fitted up with much magnificence. In it are the sumptuous House of Peers and the simpler House of Commons, an octagonal central hall. Saint Stephen's Hall on the site of Saint Stephen's Chapel, the former meeting-place of the Commons, the residence of the Speaker and other officials, the libraries, committee rooms, and lobbies connected with the two Houses, and offices. With the edifice is connected Westminster Hall (q.v.). An unsuccessful attempt to destroy the palace by explosions of dynamite was made in 1885. For illustration, see Plate accompanying the article London.