The oldest Court House in the UK
27 February 2019
Criminal courts have been a key part of English life since the middle ages, and range from small historic, local magistrates courts to huge modern combined court centres.
Until only 650 years ago, the Courts of England Wales used French as the primary language and up until the 20th century many legal terms were still expressed solely in Latin.
The various Courts of England and Wales were merged in 1873 under the Supreme Court of Judicature, but many of their historical buildings are still used today.
Let’s look at the oldest Court House in the UK.
Westminster Hall is the oldest existing part of the Palace of Westminster, erected in 1097 and at the time the largest hall in England, and probably in Europe. It Measures 73 by 20 metres and a floor area covering 1,547 square metres.
The Hall was built in 1097 under King William II, the son of William the Conqueror, and was completed two years later. He undertook the project to impress his new subjects with his power and the majesty of his authority.
Westminster Hall was the home of English superior courts until they were moved to the Strand in the early 1880s.
The hall has served a number of judiciary functions, housing the Court of King’s Bench, the Court of Common Pleas and the Court of Chancery until they were amalgamated into the High Court of Justice.
Westminster Hall has housed many of the UK’s most historically significant trials such as the state trial of King Charles I at the end of the English Civil War and the trail of Guy Fawkes.
The British are so protective of Westminster Hall that the only foreign leaders granted access to the building since World War 2 are Charles de Gaulle, Nelson Mandela, Pope Benedict XVI, Barack Obama and Aug San Suu Kyi.
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