April 27: The New Palace Of Westminster

WestminsterEarlier this month we discussed Big Ben and the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster, better known as the Houses of Parliament. Well, today we’re going to look at the Palace itself. You see, in 1834 the original Palace of Westminster burned down and it was on this day in 1840 that the cornerstone of the new Palace of Westminster was installed.

The first Palace of Westminster was built on the present site of Parliament in the 11th century as a royal residence with the Model Parliament, England’s first official Parliament of England, meeting there for the first time in 1295. From that point on, Parliament always met at the Palace of Westminster. In 1534, King Henry VIII left the Palace of Westminster and made York Place, the former residence of the late Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, his principal residence, leaving the Palace to Parliament.

On October 16, 1834, fire broke out in the Palace, after an overheated stove set the House of Lords Chamber ablaze. The fire quickly spread, sparing only a few structures. After some debate about where to build the new Parliament, it was decided that a new Palace of Westminster be built on the site of the old one. The new Gothic Palace of Westminster, designed by architect Charles Barry, incorporated the surviving elements of the original palace and took thirty years to complete. Fascinatingly, this new Palace provided Parliament with chambers specifically designed for meetings of the legislative body for the first time ever, because after all the original Palace was built as a royal, well, palace.

The Westminster is a simple, respectable cocktail; although, in all honesty, it’s really just a Perfect Manhattan made with Bourbon and given a fancy name.


  • 1 ounce Bourbon
  • 3/4 ounce Dry Vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce Sweet Vermouth

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tomorrow: Mutiny!


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