Westminster


Westminster

infobox UK place
country = England
region= London
population=
official_name= Westminster
latitude= 51.4995
longitude= -0.1333
london_borough= Westminster
constituency_westminster= Cities of London and Westminster
post_town= LONDON
postcode_area= SW
postcode_district= SW1
dial_code= 020
os_grid_reference= TQ295795
static_

static_image_caption=The Palace of Westminster
london_distance=convert|0.5|mi|km|1|abbr=on NE

Westminster is an area of Central London, within the City of Westminster. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames, southwest of the City of London and convert|0.5|mi|km|1 southwest of Charing Cross. It has a large concentration of London's historic and prestigious landmarks and visitor attractions, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and much of the West End of London.

Historically a part of Middlesex, the name "Westminster" was the ancient description for the area around Westminster Abbey–the West Minster, or monastery church, that gave the area its name–which had been the seat of the government of England for almost a thousand years. Since its construction in the mid-19th century, Westminster has been location of the Palace of Westminster, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which houses the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

History

The name "Westminster" was historically used to describe the area around Westminster Abbey–the West Minster, or monastery church, that gave the area its name–which has been the seat of the government of England for almost a thousand years. The name is also used for the larger City of Westminster which covers a wider geographical area; and, since 1965, has included the former boroughs of St Marylebone and Paddington.

The historic core of Westminster is the former Thorney Island on which Westminster Abbey was built. The Abbey became the traditional venue of the coronation of the kings of England. The nearby Palace of Westminster came to be the principal royal residence after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, and later housed the developing Parliament and law courts of England. It can be said that London thus has developed two distinct focal points: an economic one in the City of London; and a political and cultural one in Westminster, where the Royal Court had its home. This division is still very apparent today.

The monarchy later moved to other palaces elsewhere in the city, and the law courts have since moved to the Royal Courts of Justice, close to the border of the City of London. The area is still the centre of government, with Parliament now located in the Palace of Westminster and most of the major Government ministries situated in Westminster, centred on Whitehall. "Westminster" is thus often used as shorthand for Parliament and the political community of the United Kingdom generally. The civil service is similarly referred to by the area it inhabits, Whitehall, where there was also once a royal palace. "Westminster" is consequently also used in reference to the Westminster System, the parliamentary model of democratic government that has evolved in the United Kingdom. The Westminster System is used with some adaptation in many other nations, particularly in the Commonwealth of Nations and other parts of the former British Empire.Close to the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey is Westminster School, one of the major English public schools. Three of the four campuses of the University of Westminster are within the borough, although none in Westminster proper.

The area has a substantial residential population, a surprisingly large proportion of which is a traditional London working-class community living in council and Peabody Trust estates at the back of Westminster Abbey and off Millbank. There is also a substantial working class community in the north of the borough.

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.

Bibliographic References

* "THE WESTMINSTER CITY FATHERS (THE BURGESS COURT OF WESTMINSTER) 1585-1901: Being some account of their powers and domestic rule of the City prior to its incorporation in 1901" by W H Manchee. With a Foreword by Walter G. Bell and 36 illustrations which relate to documents (some pull-outs) and artefacts. [ First published by John Lane (The Bodley Head) of London in one volume 1924 with no ISBN.]
* "An Account of the Formation and Early Years of The Westminster Fire Office" by E A Davies (Includes black and white photographic plates with a colour frontispiece of 'A Waterman') With a foreword by Major K M Beaumont. [ From a copy of the book published by Country Life Limited for the Westminster Fire Office in MCMLII (1952) with no ISBN.]

Education

:"For education in Westminster see the main City of Westminster article."

Footnotes

External links

* http://www.westminster.gov.uk
* [http://www.gardenvisit.com/travel/london/3_westminster.htm Westminster Walks - from Findlay Muirhead's 1927 guidebook to "London and its Environs"]
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/21648 Westminster] , by Sir Walter Besant and Geraldine Edith Mitton and A. Murray Smith, 1902, from Project Gutenberg


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