Parliament Square represents the different arms of the state on each side of the square - Legislature to the east (the Houses of Parliament), Executive to the north (Whitehall), Judiciary to the west (the Supreme Court), and Church to the south (Westminster Abbey). It is an area of significant historic and symbolic value to the British people and many others worldwide.
The origins of the area can be traced back to the end of the tenth century, when there was a small monastery on Thorney Island, near the site of the current Abbey. The area that now forms Parliament Square Garden was formerly the churchyard and streets adjoining St Margaret's Church. In the early 1780s the buildings were demolished, the churchyard cleared and a lawn was sown. In 1834 a fire virtually destroyed the medieval Westminster Palace.
Following the fire, Sir Charles Barry won a competition to design the new palace (now known as the Houses of Parliament), which was expanded to include eight acres along the Thames. The resulting neo-Gothic buildings were completed in 1852, followed by the Clock Tower, which houses Big Ben, in 1858. Parliament Square Garden was included within Barry's designs and was laid out in 1868, after clearance of the buildings on the site, with the aim of providing the new Houses of Parliament
with a better setting.
During the Second World War, the Westminster area suffered significant bomb damage. In 1948 the architect Grey Wornum was commissioned to redesign the square as one central garden island for the then Ministry of Transport. The design now comprises a square lawn, paved walkways and formal paths, with seats on the northern and western edges.
Parliament Square Garden was listed in 1996 and is an English Heritage Grade II Registered Garden of Special Historic Interest. In 1987 it was designated as the Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square Conservation Area.
The Palace of Westminster (more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament) and Westminster Abbey, including St Margaret's Church, were inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1987, in recognition of the outstanding universal architectural historic and symbolic significance of this group of buildings and spaces. They are also recognised internationally as a symbol of spiritual and democratic ideals throughout the world.
Parliament Square Garden as played an important part in our heritage, being a key part of the ceremonial route between Westminster Abbey and Westminster Hall.
The coronation processions of Kings and Queens have passed by here since 1066, and many of the nation's Kings and Queens are buried in the Abbey, Also buried or
memorialised here are over 3,000 great men and women from almost every century of these islands' history: statesmen and politicians, lawyers, warriors, clerics, writers, artists and musicians. In the Square itself stand statues to many famous statesmen including past Prime Ministers, George Canning, Sir Robert Peel, The Earl of Derby, Viscount Palmerston, Benjamin Disraeli, David Lloyd George and Sir Winston Churchill. In 2007 a statue of Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, was added to the Square.
Rt Hon Sir Jonn Major KG CH - Prime Minister 1990 - 1997
3rd December 2012
( right end of the panel )
The Jubilee Walkway was established to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1977. It encircles the centre of London, embracing many historic buildings and views. It is approximately 15 miles (24 km) in length.
Follow the Jubilee Walkway on foot, using the circular walkway plates embedded in the ground around London. For leaflets and further information on walks in London telephone xxxx xxx xxxx.