City of Westminster
In the 11th century, the Collegiate Church of St Peter was named ‘west minster’ to distinguish it from the nearby east minster of St Paul’s Cathedral. The label stuck and the church became known as Westminster Abbey whilst the surrounding land was named Westminster.
The Abbey and the Palace of Westminster were in fact built on an island in the Thames which had been formed by a build-up of sediment in the river. Known as Thorney Island, it has since become part of the mainland after the Thames was embanked.
Westminster has now been the seat of government in England for over one thousand years, and many of the city’s most famous sites have grown up around it, making it both the cultural and political centre of London.
In 1965, Westminster was joined with the areas of St Marylebone and Paddington to form the new London borough of the City of Westminster. However, Mark’s constituency only takes in the lower half of this borough.
Did you know?
Mayfair is named after the annual May Fair that took place in the area until 1686.
Marylebone gets its name from the Church of St Mary which was built on the bank of a small stream or ‘bourne’. The church and the surrounding area became known as St Mary at the Bourne, later shortened to Marylebone.
Covent Garden is built on land that used to be the garden of the monks from the nearby Abbey. The ‘Convent Garden’ used to provide the Abbey residents with fresh fruit and vegetables and later became a major market for fresh produce in London.
How one of the constituency’s most famous streets, Piccadilly, got its name has been disputed. However, some say the Piccadilly name arises from tailor, Robert Baker, who built a mansion where the street now exists after making a fortune selling picadils (stiff collars fashionable in the 16th century).