The Victoria Tower is located in London to the south of Westminster Palace. The Victoria Tower was built in 1834 after a huge fire in Westminster Palace destroyed almost all of the palace records. The Victoria Tower was built in order to keep the records for the palace in a location that is separate from the palace, in order to avoid similar destruction in the future. Parliamentary Archives are just one part of the records kept in the Victoria Tower.
Records from the House of Lords were not destroyed in the fire of 1834, and those can still be viewed in the Jewel Tower, which is located across the street from the Victoria Tower. The tower was named for Queen Victoria of England. Queen Victoria of England reigned in England at the time of the tower’s construction.
When the tower was built and named for Queen Victoria of England, it was the tallest and largest tower in the world, at 323 feet high to the bottom of the flagstaff situated on top of the building. The flagstaff itself stretches yet another 72 feet above the tower. Although it is not as well known as the Big Ben clock tower located at the north end of the palace grounds, the Victoria Tower is slightly taller than Big Ben.
The primary entrance to Victoria Tower is also known as the Sovereign’s Entrance. Since its construction, the Monarch of England has passed through the Sovereign’s Entrance to signify the State Opening of Parliament each year. Throughout the year, at times when the Sovereign is not present at Westminster Palace, the flag that is flown from the top of the tower is the Union Flag. When the Sovereign is present at the palace, the Royal Standard flag is flown from the top of the tower. For tourists, this can be a good way to know what sort of tour you’ll be able to take of the palace. When the Sovereign is present at the palace, tours of the palace are more limited for security reasons.
If you do plan to take a trip to Westminster Palace to visit Big Ben, the changing of the guard, or to tour the palace itself, it can be fairly interesting to stop by the Victoria Tower, at least for a picture.