Westminster Hall :: Visitors' Map of London :: A-Z Maps

Westminster Hall

The main remaining fragment of the Medieval Palace of Westminster to have survived destruction by fire in 1834; other parts are St Stephens Chapel crypt and the nearby moated Jewel Tower built 1365-6 to store the Kings private treasure; the Houses of Parliament now occupy the remainder of the site. Westminster Hall was added to Edward the Confessor's Royal Palace for William Rufus 1097-1099, although the present hall is in fact a 1394-99 reconstruction by Henry Yevele for Richard II. It is chiefly famous for its great oak hammerbeam roof spanning 240ft x 68ft Decorations include Richard's coat of arms in repeat pattern, and also full size statues of Medieval Kings.

As the Great Hall of the Royal Palace, this would be the place of assembly for the King's Great Council - out of which grew the Courts of Justice and Parliament. By the end of the 13th century its principal function was to house the various Law Courts and here they remained until 1882 when they moved into the then newly constructed Royal Courts of Justice. The hall has been the scene of historic trials including William Wallace 1305, Thomas More 1535, Duke of Somerset the Lord Protector 1551, Guy Fawkes 1606, Charles I 1649 and the rebel Scottish Lords 1715 & 1745. In more recent years the hall has been used for State Ceremonies and the lying-in-State of Kings and the eminent, such as Winston Churchill (1965) and Her Majesty the Queen Mother (2002).

See Also: Houses of Parliament, Jewel Tower

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