| Geoffrey E Petts|
City of Westminster
Westminster is an area of central London within the City of Westminster on the north bank of the River Thames. Westminsters concentration of visitor attractions and historic landmarks, one of the highest in London, includes the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.
Historically the area lay within St Margarets parish, City & Liberty of Westminster, Middlesex.
The name Westminster originated from the informal description of the abbey church and royal peculiar of St Peters (Westminster Abbeys), literally West of the City of London, indeed until the Reformation there was a reference to the East Minster at Minories (Holy Trinity Priory, Aldgate) east of the City; the abbey was part of the royal palace that had been created here by Edward the Confessor. It has been the home of the permanent institutions of Englands government continuously since about 1200 (High Middle Ages Plantagenet times) and is now the seat British government.
In a government context, Westminster often refers to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Palace of Westminster - also known as the Houses of Parliament. The closest tube stations are Westminster, St James Park on the Jubilee and Circle and District lines.
The area is the centre of UK government, with Parliament in the Palace of Westminster and most of the major Government ministries known as Whitehall, itself the site of the royal palace that replaced that at Westminster.
Within the area is Westminster School, a major public school which grew out of the Abbey, and the long established University of Westminster, attended by over 20,000 students. Bounding Westminster to the north is Green Park, a Royal Park of London.
It describes an area no more than 1 mile (1.6 km) from Westminster Abbey and Palace of Westminster north of the River Thames. The settlement grew up around the palace and abbey, as a service area to them. The need for a parish church, St Margarets Westminster for the servants of the palace and of the abbey who could not worship there indicates that it had a large enough population as a small village. It became larger and in the Georgian period became connected through urban ribbon development with the City along the Strand. It did not become a viable local government unit until created as a civil parish. However as a result of Henry VIIIs Reformation the Abbey was abolished and established as a Cathedral and that is the source of the origin of the parish being described as City although it was only a fraction of the size of the City of London and the Borough of Southwark at that time. Indeed the Cathedral and diocesan status of the church did not last, from only 1539 to 1556, but the city status was retained for a mere parish within Middlesex. As such it had an MP in 1545 but this was not retained and it was part of the county representation until in 1707 it was given two MPs as a new Parliamentary Borough, centuries after the City and Southwark.