Photos from inside Westminster Hall

If you saw any of the Queenly speech at Parliament the other day, you might have noticed that it took place in the awesome venue of Westminster Hall.

This grand space although used for functions, spends most of its life as the “entrance hall” for visitors who pass through security to get into the Parliamentary Estate. And a mighty impressing entrance it is too.

Westminster Hall

Built in 1097, the most impressive part of the hall, apart from its size is the massive hammer-beam roof, which is a later addition, being built around 1393. It’s not known what sort of roof existed before that. The absence of marks in the foundations for supports suggest it could have been a single span roof, even though the techniques to build one were not thought to have existed at the time.

Westminster Hall

As a semi-regular visitor to the building, I have never quite lost the awe that is felt when going inside the hall, but oddly enough, I have never taken a photo of it.

Photography in most of the Parliamentary Estate is forbidden – except in Westminster Hall. As the Diamond Jubilee stained glass window is on display, today was finally an incentive for me to stop and take photos.

It’s a bit of a difficult location to photograph without a tripod mainly due to the extremes of light and dark, but I think these are modestly decent efforts.

Westminster Hall

The Diamond Jubilee Stained Glass Window is on display until later this year in its presentation box. It seemed to sit rather uncomfortably within the modern case, more like a plastic advertising sign than a work of glassy art.

It’ll look a lot better when eventually mounted into the window frame it is destined for. I think.

Diamond Jubilee stained glass window

Visiting

If you want to have a look for yourself, then the building is free to enter, either to listen to a debate, or just have a look around a bit. Just go though security checks and then you are in the Hall. Up the steps at the far end and through the barrier beyond which photos are not allowed, and you are in what was the original House of Commons.

In fact, it was a chapel, with choir benches facing each other, and when the Commons took it over, they retained the layout leading to the layout that presides in its replacement, of politicians facing each other on benches.

Today it’s where the tourist shop resides. Politics to Mammon in roughly 500 years.

Another Hammerbeam roof that is equally impressive, although in a smaller scale is inside Middle Temple just off Fleet Street.

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4 Comments

  1. Shannon

    Thanks, I had no idea this existed, but will definitely add it to my London to do list.

  2. Chris

    The best theory for the original roof is a roof shaped like an ‘M’ with a central line of posts supporting the roof, based upon contemporary french models. The original design of the arcades on the internal walling did not match up across the hall, so there is a theory – yet another one – that this hall is built around an earlier hall.

    We need to dig some very large trenches in this site.

  3. Oooo!

    Those are great photos. I have been aware of the survival of the hall (all that’s left of the old Palace of Westminster, true?) for a long time, but can’t remember whether I’ve ever seen photos. They are much better than “modestly decent.”

  4. Ana

    Yes, thank you! I did not have the foggiest idea about this place. I cannot believe it is from so long ago, and surviving in the middle of the city.

    Would love to see it in person.

    Ana.
    http://thisisthebananaline.blogspot.co.uk/

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