Westminster is one of London’s most visited regions. It is the home of the Palace of Westminster, as well as the Parliamentary Buildings and is less than half a mile from the City of London.
The name of Westminster was historically used to refer only to the small area of land surrounding Westminster Abbey, although the district was expanded to encompass Marylebone and Paddington in 1965.
In modern times, the largely residential Westminster is home to families who have resided there for generations. Council estates have also been built over the years, considerably increasing the population.
Westminster is a great place to visit for everyone, though history enthusiasts may feel especially at home, with its many historic buildings and world famous landmarks. Westminster is a top destination for tourists and visitors in London.
Westminster Abbey, where some of the country’s most distinguished historical figures are buried, also hosts paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other artefacts. The tombs and memorials combined make up the most substantial collection of monumental sculpture in the United Kingdom.
Within Westminster Abbey, College Gardens offer free access, without the need to go into the actual abbey itself. Unless another scheduled event is taking place, these peaceful and quite beautiful gardens are open from Tuesday to Thursday.
The Palace of Westminster is perhaps one of the most well recognised buildings worldwide. Its stunning Gothic architecture was designed by the 19th century architect Sir Charles Barry. It is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also Grade I listed. The palace is both unique and fascinating, in the fact that there is a fabulous diversity of both ancient and modern buildings, housing iconic works of art, archives and various historic furnishings.
Formally The Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower, Big Ben is perhaps one of London’s most iconic landmarks. Big Ben is actually the name of the huge bell housed within the clock tower, over 13 tons (13,760kg) in weight. At night, Big Ben looks spectacular, as the four clock faces are lit.
Big Ben often used to refer to the tower, clock and bell, although this name was originally given to the Great Bell. Completed in 1859, The Elizabeth Tower houses the Great Clock, which started on the 31 May, and the Great Bell’s strikes were first heard on the 11 July, with the quarter bells chimed for the first time on the 7 September.
Visitors wanting to avoid the tourist throng in the abbey and parliament area can cut through Dean’s Yard, then turn left into Great College Street, which leads to the gardens. The Buxton Memorial Fountain and statue of Emmeline Pankhurst can also be found there.
At the corner of Victoria Street and Broadway is Christchurch Gardens, the remainder of the former burial ground of St Margaret’s. The infamous Thomas Blood is buried there, known for his near success when trying to steal the Crown Jewels. How many visitors to the gardens know of the bodies beneath their feet?