Westminster

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Westminster
Hdr parliament.jpg
The Palace of Westminster
Westminster Abbey St Peter.jpg
Western façade of Westminster Abbey
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Westminster
Location within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ295795
  Charing Cross 0.58 mi (0.9 km)  NEbE
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SW1
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
UK
England
London
51°29′41″N00°08′07″W / 51.49472°N 0.13528°W / 51.49472; -0.13528 Coordinates: 51°29′41″N00°08′07″W / 51.49472°N 0.13528°W / 51.49472; -0.13528

Westminster is a government district and former capital of the Kingdom of England in Central London within the City of Westminster, part of the West End, on the north bank of the River Thames. [1] Westminster's concentration of visitor attractions and historic landmarks, one of the highest in London, includes the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.

A government district or government area is any part of a city or town in which the primary land use by state institutions, as opposed to a residential neighbourhood, commercial district and industrial zone, or other types of neighborhoods. In some cities, authorities use planning or zoning laws to define the boundaries of government districts.

Kingdom of England Historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Central London Innermost part of London, England

Central London is the innermost part of London, in the United Kingdom, spanning several boroughs. Over time, a number of definitions have been used to define the scope of central London for statistics, urban planning and local government. Its characteristics are understood to include a high density built environment, high land values, an elevated daytime population and a concentration of regionally, nationally and internationally significant organisations and facilities.

Contents

Historically the area lay within St Margaret's parish, City & Liberty of Westminster, Middlesex.

The name Westminster (Old English :Westmynstre) [2] originated from the informal description of the abbey church and royal peculiar of St Peter's (Westminster Abbey), literally West of the City of London (indeed, until the Reformation there was a reference to the 'East Minster' at Minories (Holy Trinity Priory, Aldgate) east of the City). The abbey was part of the royal palace that had been created here by Edward the Confessor. It has been the home of the permanent institutions of England's government continuously since about 1200 (High Middle Ages' Plantagenet times), and from 1707 the British Government.

Abbey monastery or convent, under the authority of an abbot or an abbess

An abbey is a complex of buildings used by members of a religious order under the governance of an abbot or abbess. It provides a place for religious activities, work, and housing of Christian monks and nuns.

Westminster Abbey Church in London

Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom's most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England "Royal Peculiar"—a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

City of London City and county in United Kingdom

The City of London is a city and local government district that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the agglomeration has since grown far beyond the City's borders. The City is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of London, though it remains a notable part of central London. Administratively, it forms one of the 33 local authority districts of Greater London; however, the City of London is not a London borough, a status reserved for the other 32 districts. It is also a separate county of England, being an enclave surrounded by Greater London. It is the smallest county in the United Kingdom.

In a government context, Westminster often refers to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, located in the UNESCO World Heritage Palace of Westminster — also known as the Houses of Parliament. The closest tube stations are Westminster and St James's Park, on the Jubilee, Circle, and District lines.

Parliament of the United Kingdom Supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom

The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament or Westminster, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.

World Heritage Site place listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or natural significance

A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity.

London Underground rapid transit system in London, United Kingdom

The London Underground is a public rapid transit system serving London, England and some parts of the adjacent counties of Buckinghamshire, Essex and Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.

The area is the centre of Her Majesty's Government, with Parliament in the Palace of Westminster and most of the major Government ministries known as Whitehall, itself the site of the royal palace that replaced that at Westminster.

Palace of Westminster Meeting place of the Parliament of the United Kingdom,

The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.

Government of the United Kingdom Central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Government of the United Kingdom, formally referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is also commonly referred to as simply the UK Government or the British Government.

Whitehall road in the City of Westminster, in central London

Whitehall is a road in the City of Westminster, Central London, which forms the first part of the A3212 road from Trafalgar Square to Chelsea. It is the main thoroughfare running south from Trafalgar Square towards Parliament Square. The street is recognised as the centre of the Government of the United Kingdom and is lined with numerous departments and ministries, including the Ministry of Defence, Horse Guards and the Cabinet Office. Consequently, the name 'Whitehall' is used as a metonym for the British civil service and government, and as the geographic name for the surrounding area.

Within the area is Westminster School, a major public school which grew out of the Abbey, and the University of Westminster, attended by over 20,000 students. Bounding Westminster to the north is Green Park, a Royal Park of London.

Westminster School school in Westminster, London, England

Westminster School is an independent day and boarding school in London, England, located within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. With origins before the 12th century, the educational tradition of Westminster probably dates back as far as 960, in line with the Abbey's history. Boys are admitted to the Under School at age seven and to the senior school at age thirteen; girls are admitted at age sixteen into the Sixth Form. The school has around 750 pupils; around a quarter are boarders, most of whom go home at weekends, after Saturday morning school. The school motto, Dat Deus Incrementum, is taken from the New Testament, specifically 1 Corinthians 3:6.

University of Westminster public research university located in London, United Kingdom

The University of Westminster is a public university in London, United Kingdom. Its antecedent institution, the Royal Polytechnic Institution, was founded in 1838 and was the first polytechnic institution in the UK. Westminster was awarded university status in 1992 meaning it could award its own degrees.

Royal Parks of London lands originally owned by the monarchy of the United Kingdom

The Royal Parks of London are lands originally owned by the monarchy of the United Kingdom for the recreation, mostly hunting, of the royal family. They are part of the hereditary possessions of The Crown.

Demography

The area has a substantial residential population. By the 20th Century Westminster has seen rising residential condominiums with wealthy inhabitants. Hotels, large Victorian homes and barracks exist near to Buckingham Palace.

History

For a list of street name etymologies for Westminster see Street names of Westminster

The name describes an area no more than 1 mile (1.6 km) from Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster immediately to the west of the River Thames. [3] The settlement grew up around the palace and abbey, as a service area for them. The need for a parish church, St Margaret's Westminster for the servants of the palace and of the abbey who could not worship there indicates that it had a population as large as that of a small village. It became larger and in the Georgian period became connected through urban ribbon development with the City along the Strand. It did not become a viable local government unit created as a civil parish.

Henry VIII's Reformation in the early 16th century abolished the Abbey and established a Cathedral - thus the parish ranked as a "City", although it was only a fraction of the size of the City of London and the Borough of Southwark at that time.

Indeed, the Cathedral and diocesan status of the church lasted only from 1539 to 1556, but the "city" status remained for a mere parish within Middlesex. As such it is first known to have had two Members of Parliament in 1545 as a new Parliamentary Borough, centuries after the City of London and Southwark were enfranchised. [4]

Royal seat

Bird's-eye view of Westminster in 1909 Bird Eye Pictures of London Westminster in 1909.jpg
Bird's-eye view of Westminster in 1909

The former Thorney Island, the site of Westminster Abbey, formed the historic core of Westminster. The abbey became the traditional venue of the coronations of the kings and queens of England from that of Harold Godwinson (1066) onwards.

From about 1200 the Palace of Westminster, near the abbey, became the principal royal residence, a transition marked by the transfer of royal treasury and financial records to Westminster from Winchester. Later the palace housed the developing Parliament and England's law courts. Thus London developed two focal points: the City of London (financial/economic) and Westminster (political and cultural).

The monarchs moved their principal residence to the Palace of Whitehall (1530-1698), then to St James's Palace in 1698, and eventually to Buckingham Palace and other palaces after 1762. The main law courts moved to the Royal Courts of Justice in the late-19th century.

Victorian divide

Part of Charles Booth's poverty map showing Westminster in 1889. The streets are coloured to represent the economic class of the residents: Yellow ("Upper-middle and Upper classes, Wealthy"), red ("Lower middle class - Well-to-do middle class"), pink ("Fairly comfortable good ordinary earnings"), blue ("Intermittent or casual earnings"), and black ("lowest class ... occasional labourers, street sellers, loafers, criminals and semi-criminals"). Booth coloured Victoria Street, with its new shops and flats, yellow. The model dwellings built by the Peabody Trust on the sidestreets off Victoria Street were coloured pink and grey, signalling modest respectability, while the black and blue streets were the remaining slum areas housing the poorest. Booth map of Westminster.jpg
Part of Charles Booth's poverty map showing Westminster in 1889. The streets are coloured to represent the economic class of the residents: Yellow ("Upper-middle and Upper classes, Wealthy"), red ("Lower middle class – Well-to-do middle class"), pink ("Fairly comfortable good ordinary earnings"), blue ("Intermittent or casual earnings"), and black ("lowest class ... occasional labourers, street sellers, loafers, criminals and semi-criminals"). Booth coloured Victoria Street, with its new shops and flats, yellow. The model dwellings built by the Peabody Trust on the sidestreets off Victoria Street were coloured pink and grey, signalling modest respectability, while the black and blue streets were the remaining slum areas housing the poorest.

Charles Booth's poverty map showing Westminster in 1889 recorded the full range of income and capital brackets living in adjacent streets within the area; its central western area had become (by 1850) (the) Devil's Acre in the southern flood channel ravine of the Tyburn (stream), yet along Victoria Street and other small streets and squares had the highest colouring of social class in London, yellow/gold. Westminster has shed the abject poverty with the clearance of this slum and with drainage improvement, but there is a typical Central London property distinction within the area which is very acute, epitomised by grandiose 21st-century developments, architectural high-point listed buildings [6] and nearby social housing (mostly non-council housing) buildings of the Peabody Trust founded by philanthropist George Peabody.

Local government

A map showing the wards of Westminster Metropolitan Borough as they appeared in 1916 Westminster Met. B Ward Map 1916.svg
A map showing the wards of Westminster Metropolitan Borough as they appeared in 1916

The Westminster area formed part of the City and Liberty of Westminster in Middlesex. The ancient parish was St Margaret; after 1727 this became the civil parish of 'St Margaret and St John', the latter a new church required for the increasing population. The area around Westminster Abbey formed the extra-parochial Close of the Collegiate Church of St Peter surrounded by — but not part of — either parish.[ clarification needed ][ surrounded by both parishes? ] Until 1900 the local authority was the combined vestry of St Margaret and St John (also known as the Westminster District Board of Works from 1855 to 1887), which was based at Westminster City Hall in Caxton Street from 1883.

The Liberty of Westminster, governed by the Westminster Court of Burgesses, also included St Martin in the Fields and several other parishes and places. Westminster had its own quarter sessions, but the Middlesex sessions also had jurisdiction. The area was transferred from Middlesex to the County of London in 1889, and the local government of Westminster was reformed in 1900, when the court of burgesses and the parish vestries were abolished, and replaced by a metropolitan borough council. The borough was given[ when? ] city status, allowing it to be known as the City of Westminster and its council as Westminster City Council— a title which was retained when it was merged with the boroughs of St Marylebone and Paddington in the 1960.

Wider uses of the term

Thus "Westminster", with its focus in public life from early history, is casually used as a metonym for Parliament and the political community of the United Kingdom generally. (The civil service is similarly referred to by the northern sub-neighbourhood it inhabits, "Whitehall".) "Westminster" is consequently also used in reference to the Westminster system, the parliamentary model of democratic government that has evolved in the United Kingdom and for those other nations, particularly in the Commonwealth of Nations and other parts of the former British Empire that adopted it.

The term "Westminster Village", sometimes used in the context of British politics, does not refer to a geographical area at all; employed especially in the phrase "Westminster Village gossip", it denotes a supposedly close social circle of members of parliament, political journalists, so-called spin doctors and others connected to events in the Palace of Westminster and Government ministries.

Westminster from the dome on Methodist Central Hall.jpg
Panorama of Westminster taken from the roof of the Methodist Central Hall

Notable people

Related Research Articles

City of Westminster City and borough in London

The City of Westminster is an Inner London borough that also holds city status. It occupies much of the central area of Greater London including most of the West End. Historically in Middlesex, it is to the west of the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary is the River Thames. The London borough was created with the 1965 establishment of Greater London. Upon its creation, it inherited the city status previously held by the smaller Metropolitan Borough of Westminster from 1900, which was first awarded to Westminster in 1540.

West End of London Area of Central London, England

The West End of London refers to a distinct region of Central London, west of the City of London and north of the River Thames, in which many of the city's major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings and entertainment venues, including West End theatres, are concentrated.

Middlesex historic county of England

Middlesex is an historic county in southeast England. Its area is now almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London. Its area is now also mostly within the ceremonial county of Greater London, with small sections in other neighbouring ceremonial counties. It was established in the Anglo-Saxon system from the territory of the Middle Saxons, and existed as an official administrative unit until 1965. The county is bounded to the south by the River Thames, and includes the rivers Colne and Lea and a ridge of hills as the other boundaries. The largely low-lying county, dominated by clay in its north and alluvium on gravel in its south, is the second smallest by area of England's historic counties, after Rutland.

Palace of Whitehall building in the City of Westminster, London

The Palace of Whitehall at Westminster, Middlesex, was the main residence of the English monarchs from 1530 until 1698, when most of its structures, except for Inigo Jones's Banqueting House of 1622, were destroyed by fire. It had at one time been the largest palace in Europe, with more than 1,500 rooms, overtaking the Vatican, before itself being overtaken by the expanding Palace of Versailles, which was to reach 2,400 rooms. The palace gives its name, Whitehall, to the street on which many of the current administrative buildings of the present-day British government are situated, and hence metonymically to the central government itself. At its most expansive, the palace extended over much of the area bordered by Northumberland Avenue in the north; to Downing Street and nearly to Derby Gate in the south; and from roughly the elevations of the current buildings facing Horse Guards Road in the west, to the then banks of the River Thames in the east —a total of about 23 acres (9.3 ha). It was about 710 yards (650 m) from Westminster Abbey.

Metropolitan Borough of Westminster

The Metropolitan Borough of Westminster was a metropolitan borough in the County of London, England, from 1900 to 1965.

St Margarets, Westminster church in Westminster, London

The Church of St Margaret, Westminster Abbey, in the grounds of Westminster Abbey on Parliament Square, London, England, was, until 1972, the Anglican parish church of the House of Commons. It is dedicated to Margaret of Antioch, and forms part of a single World Heritage Site with the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey.

Parliament Square square in London, United Kingdom

Parliament Square is a square at the northwest end of the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster in central London. It features a large open green area in the centre with trees to its west, and it contains twelve statues of statesmen and other notable individuals.

Metropolis Management Act 1855 United Kingdom legislation

The Metropolis Management Act 1855 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that created the Metropolitan Board of Works, a London-wide body to co-ordinate the construction of the city's infrastructure. The Act also created a second tier of local government consisting of parish vestries and district boards of works. The Metropolitan Board of Works was the forerunner of the London County Council.

City and Liberty of Westminster

The City and Liberty of Westminster was a unit of local government in the county of Middlesex, England. It was located immediately to the west of the City of London. Originally under the control of Westminster Abbey, the local authority for the area was the Westminster Court of Burgesses from 1585 to 1900. The area now forms the southern part of the City of Westminster in Greater London.

Westminster St George's, originally named St George's, Hanover Square, was a parliamentary constituency in Central London. It returned one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post system of election.

St George Hanover Square former civil parish in the metropolitan area of London, England

St George Hanover Square was a civil parish in the metropolitan area of London, England. The creation of the parish accompanied the building of the Church of St George's, Hanover Square, constructed by the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches to meet the demands of the growing population. The parish was formed in 1724 from part of the ancient parish of St Martin in the Fields in the Liberty of Westminster and county of Middlesex. It included some of the most fashionable areas of the West End of London, including Belgravia and Mayfair. Civil parish administration, known as a select vestry, was dominated by members of the British nobility until the parish adopted the Vestries Act 1831. The vestry was reformed again in 1855 by the Metropolis Management Act. In 1889 the parish became part of the County of London and the vestry was abolished in 1900, replaced by Westminster City Council. The parish continued to have nominal existence until 1922. As created, it was a parish for both church and civil purposes, but the boundaries of the ecclesiastical parish were adjusted in 1830, 1835 and 1865.

Westminster St James

Westminster St James was a civil parish in the metropolitan area of London, England. The creation of the parish followed the building of the Church of St James, Piccadilly in 1684. After several failed attempts, the parish was formed in 1685 from part of the ancient parish of St Martin in the Fields in the Liberty of Westminster and county of Middlesex. It included part of the West End of London, taking in sections of Soho, Mayfair and St James's. Civil parish administration was in the hands of a select vestry until the parish adopted the Vestries Act 1831. The vestry was reformed again in 1855 by the Metropolis Management Act. In 1889 the parish became part of the County of London and the vestry was abolished in 1900, replaced by Westminster City Council. The parish continued to have nominal existence until 1922.

St Martin in the Fields (parish) civil parish within the Liberty of Westminster

St Martin in the Fields was a civil parish in the metropolitan area of London, England. It took its name from the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields and was within the Liberty of Westminster. It included within its boundaries the former extra-parochial areas of Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace.

St Anne Within the Liberty of Westminster

St Anne Within the Liberty of Westminster, also known as St Anne Soho, was a civil parish in the metropolitan area of London, England. The creation of the parish accompanied the building of St Anne's Church, Soho to meet the demands of the growing population. The parish was formed in 1687 from part of the ancient parish of St Martin in the Fields in the Liberty of Westminster and county of Middlesex. It included the eastern section of the contemporary districts of Soho to the north of Shaftesbury Avenue and Chinatown to the south of it. Initially controlled by a select vestry, the parish was governed by an open vestry of all inhabitants until 1855, when the vestry was superseded for most purposes by the Strand District Board of Works. In 1889 the parish became part of the County of London and in 1900 the local authority became Westminster City Council. The parish continued to have nominal existence until 1922.

Westminster St Margaret and St John

St Margaret was an ancient parish in the City and Liberty of Westminster and the county of Middlesex. It included the core of modern Westminster, including the Palace of Westminster and the area around, but not including Westminster Abbey. It was divided into St Margaret's and St John's in 1727, to coincide with the building of the Church of St John the Evangelist, constructed by the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches in Smith Square to meet the demands of the growing population, but there continued to be a single vestry for the parishes of St Margaret and St John. This was reformed in 1855 by the Metropolis Management Act, and the two parishes formed the Westminster District until 1887. St Margaret and St John became part of the County of London in 1889. The vestry was abolished in 1900, to be replaced by Westminster City Council, but St Margaret and St John continued to have a nominal existence until 1922.

Commissioners of Scotland Yard United Kingdom legislation

The Commissioners of Scotland Yard was the informal name for the Commissioners for the Streets and Wayes, a body of improvement commissioners established in 1662 to manage and regulate various areas relating to streets and traffic in the cities of London and Westminster and the borough of Southwark. They were appointed under a 1662 Act of the Parliament of England which expired in 1679. The Commissioners' office was attached to that of the Surveyor of the King's Works in Scotland Yard.

Eia Former Medieval manor in Middlesex, England

Eia or Eye was an early Medieval manor in the parish of Westminster, Middlesex so has now become a part of Central London, much of which, now known as the Grosvenor Estate, heavily leased to others, is owned by Hugh Grosvenor, 7th Duke of Westminster, which in total is worth more than two billion pounds, mostly in commercial rents and development revenue. It was about one mile west of the Palace of Westminster/Whitehall, about 2 miles WSW of the walled City of London, and about one quarter that distance from the present north bank of the tidal Thames. A smaller sub-manor called Ebury or Eybury containing the hamlet Eye Cross, were originally part of the manor. Ebury and a corruption of it, Avery, appear as modern streets and other places.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to London:

References

Notes
  1. "London's Places" (PDF). London Plan . Greater London Authority. 2011. p. 46. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  2. "Manuscript C: Cotton Tiberius C.i". asc.jebbo.co.uk. Retrieved 24 November 2018. 'On þisum geare com Harold kyng of Eoforwic to Westmynstre'
  3. Jacqueline Riding, All Change at the Palace of Westminster, BBC.
  4. History of Parliament online
  5. Richard, Dennis (2008). Cities in Modernity: Representations and Productions of Metropolitan Space. Cambridge University Press. p. 140. ISBN   978-0-521-46841-1.
  6. OS Map with Listed Buildings
Bibliography

Further reading