Victoria Tower, Palace of Westminster
The Victoria Tower, named after Queen Victoria, is the tallest tower in the Palace of Westminster at 325 feet. The tower was originally designed as a Royal entrance. It is now home to the Parliamentary Archives. Architect Charles Barry designed the tower with rich carvings and sculpture with statues of patron saints of England,Scotland, Whales, a life-sized statue of Queen Victoria, and allegorical figures of Justice and Mercy.
The gateways of the tower were built wide enough to allow the Queen’s coach to drive through for State Openings of Parliament. The base of the tower is the Sovereign’s Entrance, which is used by the Queen whenever entering the Palace. By tradition, this route is the only one the Sovereign is allowed to take when he or she comes to the House of Lords.
The Victoria Tower is one part of the Palace of Westminster. The Palace is in perpendicular Gothic style, popular in the 15th century. The current buildings replaced Parliament buildings destroyed by the Great Fire of 1834. The fire was started when the Clerk of Works thought that burning obsolete wooden accounting tally sticks in two under floor stoves in the basement of the House of Lords would be a safe place to dispose of them; it was not.
In 1836, Charles Barry was selected in a competition to design the new Palace. Construction started in 1840. Barry estimated that it would take six years to complete his vision; instead it took more than 30 years. Barry was assisted by Augustus Welby Pugin, a young architect and draftsman. Some believe that Pugin should receive greater credit than Barry for the design of the Palace.
See theParliament website for more detail.