Wyatt's improvements to the Palace, 1799

The Palace of Westminster around 1820

The Palace of Westminster was transformed significantly from the 18th century on, due largely to the increased demands of Parliament. This resulted in the loss of many medieval features.

The Palace of Westminster around 1820

Demands for new Palace

It was increasingly difficult for MPs to conduct their ever-expanding Parliamentary business in ageing and inadequate Palace buildings. Between the 1730s and 1790s, there were demands for an entirely new Palace to be built.

Plans were submitted by Christopher Wren, William Kent and John Soane, but nothing came of them and only piecemeal alterations and additions were carried out.

New Stone Building

For instance, a new building was constructed between 1755 and 1770 in the Palladian style. Facing onto St Margaret's Street, this so-called New Stone Building provided additional space for the storage of documents, as well as new offices and committee rooms.

Various alterations to the Palace during this period also reflected competing interests in the classical and Gothic styles.

Remodelling the Lords and the Commons

In 1799, the Gothick (Neo-Gothic) architect James Wyatt received a commission to remodel the House of Lords. He used the opportunity to cover the Palace with Gothick detail, thus changing much of its exterior.

In 1801, the union of Great Britain with Ireland created a hundred more MPs and so necessitated the creation of extra seating in St Stephen's Chapel - home to the Commons at that time.

Wyatt removed the Chapel's medieval furnishings to reduce the thickness of its walls and provide more seats, whilst making extensive alterations to the exterior.

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Biography

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James Wyatt

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