Houses of Parliament. Original antique print from The Illustrated London News published April 11th 1857 showing the newly built Residence of the Speaker and the new Clocktower.
Following a fire that virtually destroyed the Palace of Westminster in 1834, the architect Charles Barry won a competition to design the replacement building. He chose to build the new Palace of Westminster (or Houses of Parliament) in the Gothic Revival style. Barry incorporated the remains of the Old Palace into a much larger replacement which reclaimed land from the River Thames, by creating a facade called the River Front. Included in this facade were the new residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons.
The Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the House of Commons, the United Kingdom’s nominally lower, but more influential, chamber of Parliament. The Speaker presides over the House’s debates, determining which members may speak. The Speaker is also responsible for maintaining order during a debate and may punish members who break the rules of the House. Unlike presiding officers of legislatures in many other countries, Speakers remain strictly non-partisan and renounce all affiliation with their former political parties when taking office and afterwards. The Speaker does not take part in debate or vote (except to break ties; and even then, the convention is that the speaker casts the tie-breaking vote according to Speaker Denison’s rule. Aside from duties relating to presiding over the House, the Speaker also performs administrative and procedural functions, and remains a constituency Member of Parliament (MP). The Speaker has the right and obligation to reside in Speaker’s House at the Palace of Westminster.