The origin of the Palace of Westminster is obscure. The definite record begins with Edward the Confessor (d. 1065), who rebuilt the palace at the time that he rebuilt the Abbey.
Palace and Abbey were virtually one foundation, comparable in their relation to each other with St. George's Chapel and the royal dwelling at Windsor of today.
The proximity of Westminster to London, the chief city of the realm, caused the palace here to outrival all others in importance, to become the chief meeting-place of the sovereigns and their counsellors, and eventually to be given up entirely to Parliament and the law.
The last king who resided in the Palace of Westminster was Henry VIII, by whom it was abandoned as a dwelling for Whitehall.
The old palace, a medley of buildings of all dates, encroached upon by the squalid slums of the old city of Westminster, was burnt down in 1834, the only structure of importance that escaped the flames being, fortunately, the Great Hall (Westminster Hall) that had been erected in 1097 by William Rufus, as part of his scheme for rebuilding the Confessor's palace on a grand scale.
The title of the courtyard-New Palace Yard-on which the north end of the hall abuts, is a memento of the intentions of the Norman king.
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