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 southwest of Charing Cross. It has a large concentration of London's historic
and prestigious landmarks and visitor attractions, including
Palace and Westminster Abbey.
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 has been the seat of the government of England (and later the
British government) for
almost a thousand years. Westminster is the location of the Palace of
Westminster, a UNESCO World
Heritage Site which houses the Parliament of
the United Kingdom.
Westminster describes the area around Westminster Abbey and Palace of Westminster, – the West Minster, or monastery church, west of the
City of London's St Paul's, 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 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
of the kings and queens of England
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.
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.
monarchy later moved to the Palace of Whitehall a little towards the north-east.
courts have since moved to the Royal Courts of Justice, close to the border of the City of London.
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 a
metonym for Parliament and the political
community of the United
Kingdom generally. The civil service is similarly referred
to by the area it inhabits, "Whitehall", and "Westminster" is
consequently also used in reference to the Westminster System, the parliamentary
model of democratic government that has evolved in the United
The Westminster System is used with some
adaptation in many other nations, particularly in the Commonwealth of Nations
parts of the former British Empire
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 greater London borough of the
Westminster, although none in the ancient area of
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
, 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.
- Manchee, W. H. (1924) 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; with a foreword by Walter G. Bell and
36 illustrations which relate to documents (some pull-outs) and
artefacts. London: John Lane (The Bodley Head)
- Davies, E. A. (1952) An Account of the Formation and Early
Years of The Westminster Fire Office; (Includes black and
white photographic plates with a colour frontispiece of 'A Waterman' and a
foreword by Major K. M. Beaumont. London: Country Life Limited for
the Westminster Fire Office