Some Important Dates in the History of the Palace

1065 Edward the Confessor built the old Palace

1097-99 William II built the original Westminster Hall

1237 The word ‘parliament’ was first used officially to describe a meeting of the King’s Great Council of magnates

1265 Simon de Montfort summoned representatives of the counties and towns to a parliament

before 1300 The Royal Courts of Justice settled in Westminster Hall

1327 Edward II deposed in Westminster Hall

1348 Edward III completed St Stephen’s Chapel

1365-66 Henry Yevele built the Jewel Tower in Old Palace Yard

1394-99 Richard II rebuilt Westminster Hall

1399 Richard II deposed in Westminster Hall

1526-29 The Cloisters were built by the last Dean of St Stephen’s

after 1547 St Stephen’s Chapel was handed over to the Commons

1605 Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the old House of Lords

1642 Charles I entered the House of Commons to arrest the five Members

1649 Charles I was condemned to death in Westminster Hall

1653 Oliver Cromwell took the oath as Protector in Westminster Hall

1707 Sir Christopher Wren reconstructed St Stephen’s Chapel

1806 The last state trial in Westminster Hall

1834 The Palace was ravaged by fire

1840-52 Sir Charles Barry built the new Houses of Parliament

1882 The Royal Courts of Justice moved from Westminster to the Strand

1941 The House of Commons was destroyed in an air raid

1950 The new House of Commons was opened

1967 The new office block in Star Chamber Court was opened


The hour-bell was probably nicknamed ‘Big Ben’ after Benjamin Caunt, the prize-fighter, and weighs 13½ tons. The dials of the clock are 23 feet in diameter; the weights of the clock weigh nearly 2½ tons and are raised from near ground-level by electric motor. The clock is not automatically synchronised or controlled in any way.

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