The Old Palace of Westminster

The remains of the Palace were almost completely destroyed by the fire of 1834 and, writes L.W. Cowie, the Houses of Parliament were rebuilt by Sir Charles Barry.

There also remain the two courtyards of the old Palace. In the shadow of Big Ben is New Palace Yard, and between the Abbey and the Houses of Parliament is Old Palace Yard, though its identity has almost been lost in the roadway.

It is difficult, therefore, to visualize the outward appearance of the Palace in the early sixteenth century, when it ceased to be a royal abode. It is even more difficult to be certain of the position of its interior arrangements; but it is possible, from existing or recent remains, to trace the ground plan of its main buildings; and these were so long at the centre of English political and constitutional history that there are a considerable number of contemporary references to their erection and embellishment, and to the various uses to which they were put and the events that occurred within them.

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