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Parliament Square is in the heart of Westminster bordered by Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abbey. There are also statues to the great and good, including Prime Minister Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.
The Houses of Parliament have occupied the same spot since 1016, when King Canute built a royal residence. It was gutted by fire in 1834, and Charles Barry designed the gothic-style replacement.
The oldest surviving part is Westminster Hall – where England’s leading lights are laid in State. It also served as the country’s highest court until the mid 19th-century. The most famous case involved a certain Guy Fawkes, who was tried for treason in the Gunpowder Plot.
The two main chambers are the House of Lords – where the nobles used to sit – and the House of Commons, where the Prime Minister comes face to face with members of the opposition. Members of the public can watch these lively debates from up high in the gallery.
Westminster Abbey is the setting for coronations, State funerals, and the burial place of many celebrated British figures.
Edward the Confessor was the first to be interred here, and William the Conqueror was crowned in 1066. The famous Coronation Chair from 1292 may look modest, but it has been used at nearly every coronation for 700 years.
A popular part of the Abbey is Poet’s Corner – where the nation’s poets and playwrights are laid to rest. You can see the graves and memorials to Chaucer, Milton, Tennyson, Wordsworth and Shakespeare.
St. Margaret’s church is right next door to the Abbey, and is known as the parish church of Parliament.
Many famous people have been married here, including Samuel Pepys (1665), John Milton (1656) and Sir Winston Churchill (1908). The stained-glass window records another engagement – that of Prince Arthur to Catherine of Aragon. She later married his younger brother, Henry VIII.
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