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Parliament Square

File:Parliament Square 1980.jpg
Parliament Square in 1980

Parliament Square is a square at the northwest end of the Palace of Westminster in London. It features a large open green area in the centre with trees to its west and it contains ten statues of statesmen and other notable individuals.

As well as being one of London's main tourist attractions, it is also the place where many demonstrations and protests have been held. The square is overlooked by various official buildings: legislature to the east (in the Houses of Parliament), executive offices to the north (on Whitehall), the judiciary to the west (the Supreme Court), and the church to the south (with Westminster Abbey).


Buildings looking upon the square include the churches Westminster Abbey and St Margaret's, Westminster, the Middlesex Guildhall which is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Government Offices Great George Street serving HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs, and Portcullis House.

Roads that branch off the Parliament Square are St. Margaret Street (towards Millbank), Broad Sanctuary (towards Victoria Street), Great George Street (towards Birdcage Walk), Parliament Street (leading into Whitehall), and Bridge Street (leading onto Westminster Bridge).


File:DISTRICT(1888) p118 - Westminster (map).jpg
Streets around Parliament Square in 1888

Parliament Square was laid out in 1868 in order to open up the space around the Palace of Westminster and improve traffic flow, and featured London's first traffic signals. A substantial amount of property had to be cleared from the site. The architect responsible was Sir Charles Barry. Its original features included the Buxton Memorial Fountain, which was removed in 1940 and placed in its present position in nearby Victoria Tower Gardens in 1957. In 1950 the square was redesigned by George Grey Wornum. The central garden of the square was transferred from the Parliamentary Estate to the control of the Greater London Authority by the Greater London Authority Act 1999. It has responsibility to light, cleanse, water, pave, and repair the garden, and has powers to make bylaws for the garden.

The east side of the square, lying opposite one of the key entrances to the Palace of Westminster, has historically been a common site of protest against government action or inaction. On May Day 2000 the square was transformed into a giant allotment by a Reclaim the Streets guerrilla gardening action. Most recently, Brian Haw staged a continual protest there for several years, campaigning against British and American action in Iraq. Starting on 2 June 2001, Haw left his post only once, on 10 May 2004 - and then because he had been arrested on the charge of failing to leave the area during a security alert, and returned the following day when he was released. The disruption that Haw's protest is alleged to have caused led Parliament to insert a clause into the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 making it illegal to have protests in Parliament Square (or, indeed, in a large area reaching roughly half a mile in all directions) without first seeking the permission of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act relating to Parliament Square were repealed by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, which provides for a different regime of "prohibited activities".[1]

As well as sparking a great deal of protest from various groups on the grounds of infringement of civil liberties including the European Convention on Human Rights, the Act was initially unsuccessful in accomplishing its goals: Brian Haw was held to be exempt from needing authorisation in a High Court ruling, as his protest had started before the Act came into effect (though any new protests would be covered); Haw remained in Parliament Square. Later, the Court of Appeal overturned this ruling, forcing Haw to apply for police authorisation to continue his protest.


The square is home to eleven statues of British, Commonwealth, and foreign statesmen. They are listed here in anti-clockwise order, beginning with Winston Churchill's statue which faces Parliament.

Image Subject Location Sculptor Date of unveiling Notes Listing
100px Winston Churchill

Prime Minister 1940–1945 and 1951–1955

North-eastern edge of the green

51°30′03″N 0°07′35″W / 51.5008°N 0.1265°W / 51.5008; -0.1265 (Winston Churchill){{#coordinates:51.5008|-0.1265|type:landmark_region:GB-WSM||||||

name=Winston Churchill


Ivor Roberts-Jones 1 November 1973

Unveiled by Lady Clementine Churchill. Churchill indicated his desire for a statue of himself in this spot when Parliament Square was redeveloped in the 1950s.[2] Roberts-Jones’s initial versions of the statue were felt to bear too close a resemblance to Benito Mussolini.[3]

Grade II
100px David Lloyd George

Prime Minister 1916–1922

Northern edge of the green Glynn Williams 25 November 2007

Unveiled by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. Stands on a plinth of slate from Penrhyn Quarry, North Wales.[4]

100px Jan Smuts

Prime Minister of South Africa 1919–1924 and 1939–1948

Northern edge of the green

51°30′03″N 0°07′37″W / 51.5009°N 0.1269°W / 51.5009; -0.1269 (Jan Smuts){{#coordinates:51.5009|-0.1269|type:landmark_region:GB-WSM||||||

name=Jan Smuts


Sir Jacob Epstein 7 November 1956 Winston Churchill, on his return to power in 1951, wished to erect a statue to Smuts; he was, however, unable to perform the unveiling due to illness. The pedestal is of granite from South Africa.[5] Grade II
100px Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

Prime Minister 1855–1858 and 1859–1865

North-western edge of the green

51°30′03″N 0°07′38″W / 51.5009°N 0.1271°W / 51.5009; -0.1271 (Viscount Palmerston){{#coordinates:51.5009|-0.1271|type:landmark_region:GB-WSM||||||

name=Viscount Palmerston


Thomas Woolner 2 February 1876

Palmerston is portrayed in middle age, before he became Prime Minister. The pedestal departs from the "Gothic" model of the nearby statues of Derby and Peel.[6]

Grade II
100px Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby

Prime Minister 1852, 1858–1859 and 1866–1868

North-western edge of the green

51°30′03″N 0°07′38″W / 51.5008°N 0.1273°W / 51.5008; -0.1273 (Earl of Derby){{#coordinates:51.5008|-0.1273|type:landmark_region:GB-WSM||||||

name=Earl of Derby


Matthew Noble 11 July 1874

Derby is represented wearing his robes as Chancellor of Oxford University. The bronze reliefs around the pedestal depicting scenes from his life were executed by Noble’s assistant, Horace Montford.[7]

Grade II
100px Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield

Prime Minister 1868 and 1874–1880

Western edge of the green

51°30′02″N 0°07′38″W / 51.5006°N 0.1273°W / 51.5006; -0.1273 (Benjamin Disraeli){{#coordinates:51.5006|-0.1273|type:landmark_region:GB-WSM||||||

name=Benjamin Disraeli


Mario Raggi 19 April 1883

The statue was the "shrine" of the Primrose League, a conservative association established in Disraeli’s memory, who left wreaths in front of it every year on "Primrose Day", the anniversary of his death.[8]

Grade II
100px Sir Robert Peel

Prime Minister 1834–1835 and 1841–1846

Western edge of the green

51°30′02″N 0°07′38″W / 51.5005°N 0.1273°W / 51.5005; -0.1273 (Sir Robert Peel){{#coordinates:51.5005|-0.1273|type:landmark_region:GB-WSM||||||

name=Sir Robert Peel


Matthew Noble 1877

Initially a statue of Peel was commissioned from Carlo Marochetti. This was ready by 1853 but was considered to be far too large. Marochetti produced a smaller work which was placed at the entrance to New Palace Yard; this was removed in 1868 and melted down in 1874.[9]

Grade II
100px George Canning

Foreign Secretary 1807–1809 and 1822–1827; Prime Minister 1827

At the square's junction with Great George Street

51°30′04″N 0°07′40″W / 51.5010°N 0.1277°W / 51.5010; -0.1277 (George Canning){{#coordinates:51.5010|-0.1277|type:landmark_region:GB-WSM||||||

name=George Canning


Sir Richard Westmacott 2 May 1832 Originally erected in New Palace Yard; in its current location since 1949. The features are based on the portrait bust of Canning by Sir Francis Chantrey, who was "not at all pleased with the preference shewn to Mr. Westmacott".[10] Grade II
100px Abraham Lincoln

President of the United States 1861–1865

In front of the Middlesex Guildhall

51°30′02″N 0°07′40″W / 51.5006°N 0.1278°W / 51.5006; -0.1278 (Abraham Lincoln){{#coordinates:51.5006|-0.1278|type:landmark_region:GB-WSM||||||

name=Abraham Lincoln


Augustus Saint-Gaudens July 1920

A replica of the statue in Lincoln Park, Chicago. This statue was unveiled by the Duke of Connaught, after being ceremonially accepted by David Lloyd George. Initially the statue was to be erected in 1914, but this was postponed. By that time some favoured an alternative statue by George Grey Barnard, which was eventually erected in Manchester.[11]

Grade II
100px Nelson Mandela

President of South Africa 1994–1999

South-western edge of the green

51°30′03″N 0°07′35″W / 51.5008°N 0.1265°W / 51.5008; -0.1265 (Winston Churchill){{#coordinates:51.5008|-0.1265|type:landmark_region:GB-WSM||||||

name=Winston Churchill


Ian Walters 29 August 2007

Westminster Council had earlier refused permission for placing the statue in Trafalgar Square adjacent to South Africa House.[12] The statue was unveiled by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the presence of Wendy Woods, the widow of Donald Woods, a late anti-apartheid campaigner, and the British actor, director and long-time friend of Woods, Richard Attenborough.

100px Mahatma Gandhi

Indian Independence Leader

Philip Jackson 14 March 2015

The statue of the Indian independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi is based on a photograph of Gandhi standing outside the offices of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Ramsay MacDonald in 1931.[13] It was unveiled by Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 14 March, 2015. The statue was dedicated as a commemoration of the centennial of Gandhi's return to India from South Africa, which is generally regarded as the commencement of his efforts for Indian independence. Speakers at the unveiling of the statue included Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron, Indian film star Amitabh Bachchan and Gandhi's grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi. [13]


The Parliament Square Peace Campaign is a peace campaign started by Brian Haw in 2001 and carried on by Barbara Tucker.[14]

In May 2010, a peace camp known as Democracy Village was set up in the square to protest (initially) against the British government's involvement in invasions in the Middle East, which became an eclectic movement encompassing left-wing causes and anti-globalisation protests.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson appealed to the courts to have them removed and, after demonstrators lost an appeal in July 2010, Lord Neuberger ruled that the protesters camping on the square should be evicted.[15]


Panoramic view from the centre of Parliament Square


  1. ^ The law and history on protest around Parliament, including the ban that was enforced under SOCPA and the narrower restrictions under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 are analysed in an article on protest in Parliament Square. Kiron Reid 'Letting Down the Drawbridge: Restoration of the Right to Protest At Parliament'. (2013) 1 Law Crime and History 16 (pp. 16-51) (Internet (free access)). ISSN 2045-9238. The file is a .pdf.
  2. ^ Howard, Philip (2 November 1973). "Resolute and defiant as ever, Churchill's statue is revealed". The Times. 
  3. ^ "Winston Churchill's statue ‘had a look of Mussolini’". The Daily Telegraph. 1 January 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Lloyd George statue ‘is a disgrace’". The Independent. 26 October 2007. Retrieved 30 September 201.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ Ward-Jackson 2011, p. 206–10
  6. ^ Ward-Jackson 2011, pp. 195–7
  7. ^ Ward-Jackson 2011, p. 192
  8. ^ Ward-Jackson 2011, pp. 200–3
  9. ^ "Noble, Matthew (bap. 1817, d. 1876), sculptor". Your Archives. The National Archives. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  10. ^ Ward-Jackson 2011, pp. 190–2
  11. ^ "The statue of Abraham Lincoln in Parliament Square". Your Archives. The National Archives. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "London Mandela statue for Parliament Sq". BBC News. 29 August 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ "Parliament Square peace campaigner Brian Haw dies". BBC Online. 19 June 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  15. ^ Parliament Square protesters lose eviction appeal], BBC News, 16 July 2010.
  • Ward-Jackson, Philip (2011). Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster: Volume 1. Public Sculpture of Britain. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. 

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 51°30′02″N 0°07′36″W / 51.50056°N 0.12667°W / 51.50056; -0.12667{{#coordinates:51|30|02|N|0|07|36|W|region:GB_type:landmark |primary |name= }}