Timeline of major works to
Palace of Westminster

c.1045

Edward the Confessor rebuilds Westminster Palace on the same site by the River Thames, and also rebuilds the abbey nearby as a Benedictine foundation.

1099

Westminster Hall, now the oldest part of the Parliamentary Estate, completed by William Rufus.

1292

King Edward I begins to rebuild St. Stephen’s Chapel – completed with lavish decoration in about 1365 by his grandson, King Edward III.

1394-1401

Westminster Hall north front rebuilt by Henry Yevele and hammer-beam roof built by Hugh Herland, for King Richard II. It is the largest medieval timber roof in Northern Europe.

c.1520

King Henry VIII leaves the Palace in 1513, but the Cloister of St. Stephen’s College is rebuilt for the king, whilst the legislature gradually takes over the buildings surrounding it.

1547

King Edward VI grants the use of the former royal chapel of St. Stephen to the Commons for conversion into their first permanent chamber.

1834

Fire destroys two-thirds of the old palace on 16 October; Westminster Hall, the Chapel of St. Mary Undercroft and Cloisters survived. Competition for new Palace announced 1835 – to be Gothic or Elizabethan. 97 entrants applied. Competition won by Charles Barry in 1836; Augustus Welby Pugin provided detail drawings.

1840

Foundation stone of new Palace laid by Mrs Barry in April.

1841

Royal Fine Arts Commission established for advice on decoration; under chairmanship of Prince Albert; scheme of decoration begun 1846.

1844

Augustus Welby Pugin engaged to carry out detail drawings for interior.

1852

Official opening of new Palace of Westminster including Commons Chamber; first State Opening to use Royal Entrance beneath Victoria Tower, procession through Royal Gallery and into Lords’ Chamber. Public access through Westminster Hall and St. Stephen’s Hall also ready. Augustus Pugin dies at the age of 40.

1854

Goldsworthy Gurney replaces David Boswell Reid and simplifies ventilation system, whilst also designing gas lighting.

1859

Clock mechanism set in motion and Big Ben chimes for the first time in July.

1860

Stonework completed for Victoria Tower (houses the world’s oldest Parliamentary archive); iron lantern and flagstaff completed later by Edward Barry (Charles’ son). Sir Charles Barry dies in May at the age of 65 – buried in Westminster Abbey.

1863-1868

Chapel of St Mary Undercroft decorated by Edward Barry with new stained glass, altar, pulpit and font. Royal Fine Arts Commission dissolved 1863. Further decoration of interior halted by First Commissioner of Works and EM Barry’s commission finished in 1870.

1882

Royal Courts of Justice move to Strand.

1883

First telephones introduced; first electric lighting introduced 1884; first lift installed (to Ladies Gallery, House of Commons) and House of Lords Chamber first lit by electricity 1893.

1940

Second World War bombs destroy south window of Westminster Hall in September; and south and east sides of the Cloisters of St Stephen’s in December.

1941

House of Commons Chamber destroyed by bombing on 10-11 May. The Palace was damaged by air raids on 14 occasions during the war.

1950

New House of Commons Chamber and surrounding offices opened; designed by Giles Gilbert Scott in the Tudor Gothic style as before.

1964-1974

New accommodation blocks added around some courtyards.

1974

Underground car park beneath New Palace Yard completed.

1974

Reproduction Pugin wallpaper provided for the Moses Room under the guidance of the Victoria and Albert Museum, thereby initiating the careful analysis of original schemes and their reproduction.

1990

The Ibbs Report suggests a phased works programme of improvements under the control of a single body. Parliamentary Works Directorate set up two years later following the privatisation of Property Services Agency.

2011

Speaker’s Court cast iron roof overhaul begins ongoing programme of repairs to Palace roofs.

2015

Education Centre constructed in Victoria Tower Gardens adjacent to Palace grounds.

*Date indicates year of completion of project unless otherwise stated.