Westminster: A Biography

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This is the remarkable story of Westminster, a royal capital that became the birthplace of parliamentary government and the centre of a world power. It is about the place, its people and their close relationship. They have made and shaped one another. The ancient heart of Westminster is only the size of a village, yet it boasts world famous buildings: the Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Number 10 Downing Street. As befits a village, Westminster is rich in folklore and gossip, yet its story is central to Britain's history and anywhere that has parliamentary government.

This biography of Westminster traces the extraordinary transformation of a secluded island on the banks of the Thames into a spiritual centre, a royal ceremonial stage and a political capital. It brings to life the monarchs and prime ministers for whom Westminster has been home, the architects and writers whom it inspired, and the protestors and rebels whom it provoked. It is a tale of inspiration, intrigue, power, protest and terror.


Robert Shepherd is an award-winning radio and television producer based at Westminster, an author of political biographies and histories, and a former special adviser in Whitehall. His 'fly on the wall' documentary about the Foreign Office for Channel 4's Dispatches won Europe's Prix Stendhal. He also produced What Has Become Of Us, Channel 4's series on post-war Britain, Straight Talk with Andrew Neil for BBC News and Radio 4's The Prime Ministers.


Author's Note \ Maps and Plans \ Part I - Beginnings \ 1. 'That Terrible Place' \ 2. The Confessor and his Marvel \ 3. 'Two Nations in the Womb' \ 4. Norman Rule and Resistance \ Part II - Making The Royal Capital \ 5. An Unlikely Founding Father \ 6. Seat of Government \ 7. 'The Most Glorious Work in England' \ 8. Parliament \ 9. Edward and the Stone of Destiny \ 10. From Charing Cross to St Stephen's \ 11. Chaucer's Westminster \ 12. Raising the Roof \ 13. Sanctity and Sanctuary \ Part III - Revolutionaries \ 14. A New Era \ 15. Whitehall Palace \ 16. End of the Old Order \ 17. The Shape of Things to Come \ 18. A Tale of Two Sisters \ 19. Holy Terror \ 20. Scandal and Splendour \ 21. Killing the King \ 22. Republicans and Restorers \ 23. Fire and Flight \ Part IV - New Political Capital \ 24. Cockpit of Power \ 25. The Prime Minister \ 26. Georgian Icons \ 27. Mobs and Scribblers \ 28. Pitt's Village \ 29. From Bad Debts to High Hopes \ 30. Village at War \ 31. Assassination \ 32. Royal Farce \ 33. Reform \ 34. Fire! \ Part V - Global Icon \ 35. Victorian Phoenix \ 36. Golden Age \ 37. Dynamite \ 38. Pomp and Circumstance \ 39. War and Peace \ 40. Bitter Fruit \ 41. Finest Hour \ 42. Masters and Modernisers \ 43. New Wine in Old Battles \ Notes \ Bibliography \ Index

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Westminster: A Biography
From Earliest Times to the Present
E-Book (epub)
Bloomsbury UK
Bloomsbury Usa
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