Westminster Hall

Westminster Hall

Westminster Hall was the home of English superior courts until they were moved to the Strand in the early 1880s. Construction of the hall began in 1097; the hall is 240 feet long, 671/2 feet wide, and 90 feet high. In addition to holding regular court sessions, the hall was the focal point of medieval political life.

Many famous trials were held in the hall. Sir Thomas More (1478–1535), lord chancellor for Henry VIII (1491–1547), was sentenced to death for refusing to recognize royal supremacy over the church. Charles I (1600–49) was sentenced to death for Treason, and Warren Hastings (1732–1818) was impeached for his handling of the East India Company.

Westminster Hall contained the King's Bench, the Court of Chancery, and the Court of Common Pleas. Until the eighteenth century, it had no partitions or screens to divide the courts from the open hall.

The hall was part of Westminster Palace, which, except for the hall and St. Stephen's Chapel, was destroyed by fire in 1834. The houses of Parliament were constructed next to the hall between 1840 and 1860.

References in classic literature ?
One evening, shortly before twilight, he came his accustomed road upon the river's bank, intending to pass through Westminster Hall into Palace Yard, and there take boat to London Bridge as usual.
There were many little knots and groups of persons in Westminster Hall: some few looking upward at its noble ceiling, and at the rays of evening light, tinted by the setting sun, which streamed in aslant through its small windows, and growing dimmer by degrees, were quenched in the gathering gloom below; some, noisy passengers, mechanics going home from work, and otherwise, who hurried quickly through, waking the echoes with their voices, and soon darkening the small door in the distance, as they passed into the street beyond; some, in busy conference together on political or private matters, pacing slowly up and down with eyes that sought the ground, and seeming, by their attitudes, to listen earnestly from head to foot.
Here we stand, by no previous appointment or arrangement, three old schoolfellows, in Westminster Hall; three old boarders in a remarkably dull and shady seminary at Saint Omer's, where you, being Catholics and of necessity educated out of England, were brought up; and where I, being a promising young Protestant at that time, was sent to learn the French tongue from a native of Paris!'
In the midst of them, the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless, was in constant requisition; now, stringing up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now, hanging a housebreaker on Saturday who had been taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in the hand at Newgate by the dozen, and now burning pamphlets at the door of Westminster Hall; to-day, taking the life of an atrocious murderer, and to-morrow of a wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence.
To an Englishman, accustomed to the paraphernalia of Westminster Hall, an American Court of Law is as odd a sight as, I suppose, an English Court of Law would be to an American.
Even our Becky had her weaknesses, and as one often sees how men pride themselves upon excellences which others are slow to perceive: how, for instance, Comus firmly believes that he is the greatest tragic actor in England; how Brown, the famous novelist, longs to be considered, not a man of genius, but a man of fashion; while Robinson, the great lawyer, does not in the least care about his reputation in Westminster Hall, but believes himself incomparable across country and at a five-barred gate--so to be, and to be thought, a respectable woman was Becky's aim in life, and she got up the genteel with amazing assiduity, readiness, and success.
But as that wouldn't do in Westminster Hall, and as it wouldn't look quite professional if they were seen by a client, they decamped.
Westminster Hall itself is a shady solitude where nightingales might sing, and a tenderer class of suitors than is usually found there, walk.
'Assuredly not one of our Westminster Hall authorities,' said he, 'but still no despicable one to a man possessing the largely-practical Mr Merdle's knowledge of the world.'
I saw a man examined as a witness in Westminster Hall. Questions put to him seemed the simplest in the world, but turned out to be anything rather than that, after he had answered 'em.
A reception for NFU West Midlands was held in Westminster Hall, sponsored by Matt Western MP.
"Addressing the damage caused by the Death Watch Beetle to oak beams and environmental degradation of the limestone masonry is an integral part of the conservation of the 600-year-old roof of Westminster Hall.
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