The Palace of Westminster and Westminster Hall
In 1605, as today, Parliament was based in the Palace of
Westminster in London, a complex of medieval buildings grouped
around Westminster Hall, originally a royal palace. Following
a fire in 1512 the Palace was abandoned by monarchs and became
the site of a variety of government offices, including the
Royal Courts of Justice.
The picture below, engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar in 1647,
shows part of the palace from the river, including Westminster
Hall and the House of Commons. The House of Lords is out of
the picture, to the left of the House of Commons.
Palace of Westminster Collection
The plan below was drawn in the early nineteenth century
for a reconstruction of the Palace of Westminster as it stood
at the beginning of the fifteenth century.
Despite the fire of 1512 there had been little change to
the main structures by the time of the Plot. Alterations between
the 1790s and 1820s and a great fire of 1834 were to destroy
almost all of these buildings except Westminster Hall.
'Foundation Plan of the Ancient Palace
of Westminster', J. T. Smith, Antiquities of Westminster (1807).
Westminster Hall was the main building of the medieval palace
and still stands today. The drawing below shows how it would
have looked during the seventeenth century.
The wooden structures housed the court of King's Bench (left)
and Chancery (right) until the eighteenth century. These were
removed for occasions such as coronations and major state
trials.The south end of Westminster Hall, Anonymous, Anglo-Dutch
School, c. 1620. © Trustees of the British Museum.Westminster
Hall remained the site of the law courts until their relocation
to the Strand in the nineteenth century.
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