Justice at Westminster Hall

Once the hall of Richard II’s palace, Westminster Hall became a centre of the British judicial system and, writes Leonard W. Cowie, a popular meeting-place for Londoners.

‘I think that Westminster Hall is without I doubt the most solemn spot in all England’, Sir Charles Oman once wrote. Today, except on rare ceremonial occasions, the Hall is a vast empty space, a silent, deserted church-like building, visited only by an infrequent passer-by.

As with that other remnant of a great royal palace, the Banqueting House in Whitehall designed by Inigo Jones, its present condition is a quiet shadow of its historic past. On the floor of Westminster Hall a number of small brass-plates, recalling state-trials and lyings-in-state, make some mention of that past, but give no indication of the time, extending over centuries, when the Hall was the very centre of the English judicial system.

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