CXXXIV.-Westminster Hall and the New Houses of Parliament.
need not desire a more striking illustration of the recently altered state of public feeling and knowledge on the subject of our great national edifices than is furnished by the contrast between Buckingham Palace and the new Houses of Parliament; all that, in grandeur and characteristic expression, the --as we have endeavoured to point out in a previous number--is not, but ought to have been, it is now tolerably certain the will be. Indeed, it is hardly too much to say, that if the works now in progress are carried on in the spirit with which they have been commenced, we shall not simply possess a structure that may bear comparison with any foreign structures of the same era, but that will at once take English architecture out of the shadow of its own greatness, by rivalling the glorious productions of our forefathers, the builders. of the wonderful abbeys and cathedrals. And as with architecture, so with painting and with sculpture: the artists of England will long have reason to remember the rebuilding of these houses; centuries hence their historians will refer to it as the most momentous event in the records of English art:
we may imagine them saying,
Not the least surprising, and, when rightly examined, possibly not the least gratifying feature of the change to which we have referred, is the mode in which it has been brought about, in so short a time. The change is the work of no enlightened but
|despotic sovereign, who may create a temporary taste in accordance with his own to die, most likely, when he dies, unless his exertions have been attended by peculiarly favourable conjunctions of circumstances; it is the work of no very great artist--who may not only also produce tastes favourable to his art but make them permanent into the bargain--for we have of late had no such man; nor of any body of artists combining together for the purpose, as the Academy once proposed to do in connection with ; it is not even the workthough they may lay claim to a noticeable portion of it--of critical writers in the press and enlightened men of taste in the world: it seems rather the result of a variety of agencies working, at , apparently unconnected with each other, but suddenly brought into conjunction by the unexpected demand for a national edifice of the very highest character. Modern public buildings, for instance, have long been, as a whole, a subject of dissatisfaction with the best judges; and no wonder, when we consider the jobbing, the ignorance, and the presumption that has so often disgraced those who have had the choice of the architect and, in a great degree, the direction of his labours; wonderfully, therefore, was the architectural atmosphere purified by the introduction of the system of open competition, and the subsequent appearance, through its instrumentality, of such a plan as that by Mr. Barry. The decorations of our buildings were little better, when they had any; and where they had not, the effect of the naked and chillinglooking walls, roofs and windows, was felt, even before men generally were aware of the cause; whilst, to those who were familiar, either personally or by descriptions, with the recent structures of Munich, such walls became barer and chillier than ever; and there only needed the successful experiment of the Temple Church to satisfy all parties that in going back to the glow of colour and gilding we were not going back, as it would have been thought years ago, to barbarism. But naked walls did not suggest these feelings only. The absence of the loftiest school of painting has also been a continual subject of regret with those who have meditated upon the importance of the pictorial instruction of a nation in the history of the events that have mainly contributed to make it what it is; and of something more than regret with the ambitious and able artist, thus debarred from the highest powers and triumphs of his profession. But how was such a school to be established? of Britain's greatest historical painters-Barry would have starved but for his extraordinary powers of self-denial; and since then wealthy patrons have remained as indifferent as ever, or have lived in houses too small for the admission of pictures on the usual historical scale. There was but hope of a solution of the problem--namely, that in satisfying the general and growing thirst for information which characterised the time, artistical knowledge and tastes might be diffused among the people themselves, and thus lead, directly or indirectly, to the artistical adornment of our public buildings. Our Penny Magazines and other cheap publications have solved that problem; in familiarising, through the medium of engravings, their hundreds of thousands of readers with the productions of the greatest masters. The rest was and is easy with a Minister personally distinguished for his enlightened and liberal patronage of art; and who, not only as a minister, but as a member of the Commission appointed by her Majesty to inquire whether advantage might not be taken of the rebuilding of the Houses, for the encouragement of the Fine Arts, now|
|carries the same qualifications into the service of the country. It is to this Commission we owe the interesting scene lately presented in the Hall--the exhibition of the Cartoons; which has in itself proved that the materials are ready for a great advance, namely, artists capable of showing the way; a public not merely ready, but eager, to follow.|
Numerous as are the divisions of the new houses, owing to the great number of apartments required for committee-rooms, offices, and for the residences of the several officers of the Houses, from the Speaker of the Commons downwards, the whole is characterised by a grand and harmonious simplicity of arrangement. We may thus briefly describe the plan. The chief entrance will be through Hall, forming, we should imagine, the noblest vestibule in the world. From thence, the visitor, ascending the flight of stairs at its extremity, turning to the left, and then ascending a flight, will find himself at the commencement of Hall (built on the site of Chapel, or the old , and its lobby), with a long vista before him, through the Hall itself, feet long, then through the octagon hall, the grand centre of the pile, feet in diameter, and so on through the corridor beyond to the distant waiting-hall connected with the entrance from the opposite side of the building, in the middle of the river front. The breadth of Hall will be feet, its height the same as the octagon hall, feet. As the latter is reached, the whole of the main features of the plan will become at once apparent. From hence branch off to the left in continuous range, the Commons' corridor, then the lobby, then the House itself; and, to the right, in still grander succession, the corridor, lobby, and House of the Peers; beyond which, in the same line, lies the Victoria Gallery, feet long, wide, and high, in close connection with the Royal entrance, beneath the Victoria Tower, a work which does as much honour to the architect's courage for having proposed it, as it will do to his skill when he shall have completed it. can hardly tell how to believe it, and yet it is certainly true, that a tower, larger than the largest of our cathedral towers, is in course of erection during this the century. The manner in which the corridors, open courts, libraries, offices, and residences of the officers of the Houses, are grouped around the more important portions of the edifice, is admirable for its combination of utility with beauty of arrangement. We may note how happily are connected the guardrooms and Queen's robing-room, and the immense Royal Court, with the Victoria Tower and Gallery; the Speaker's residence at the north-east angle, with the House over whose sittings he presides; the different committee-rooms, and the libraries Waith the Houses to which they respectively belong; and the Conference Hall, with both, commanding--as the place for a meeting of the estates should--the noblest position that the magnificent river front can furnish, namely, the spot over the entrance gateway in the centre of the facade. The dimensions of the Houses are as follows :--The Peers feet long, wide, and high; the Commons feet long, wide, and high. The height, therefore, of all the chief portions of the interior is the same. The ceiling, in both Houses, as well as in the Victoria Gallery, Conference Hall, and other apartments of the Palace generally, will be flat, the only exceptions being Hall, and the octagon hall, where the roofs will be groined in stone.
We should have been glad to have furnished our readers with a view of the exterior, either as it is in its unfinished state, or as it is to be according to the designs of its author; but the objections, we understand (and we must own very naturally), are so decided against the course as liable to convey inadequate ideas of the whole; and against the , from the alterations that in the course of the works are constantly being made in matters of detail; that we deem ourselves at once obliged and fortunate in being able to give a sketch even of a small portion of the river front, that may serve simply to indicate the sumptuous character of the architectural and sculpturesque decorations. The whole of this front, with its wings, is now fast approaching to completion; and it may here be
|remarked, as a proof of the uselessness of copying the original designs, and presenting them as engravings of the building, which we still see from time to time done, that elegant turrets have been substituted for the buttresses originally proposed; that the niches with statues, a most important feature, have been added, and that generally the whole surface has been most surprisingly enriched. Every square yard of it is now a study. The statues, both on the east and on the west fronts (forming the ends of the pile, as we might call them from the length of the latter), represent the same series of monarchs, that is from the Heptarchy to the Conquest; a repetition, we own, of which we do not see the peculiar beauty. Of the statues themselves it is impossible to speak too highly. The arms, coronets, and names in black letter fashion, all in high relief, of every monarchs (the number comprised in each bay, above and below), are grouped together|
| into a most rich-looking piece of workmanship, forming the chief ornament of the broad band of decoration that divides the chief stories. The smaller statues of the river front comprise all the sovereigns from the Conquest down to Her present Majesty, whose reign will be signalised by the erection of the structure. It was an odd coincidence that the number of places for the statues should be exactly that of the number of statues required to complete the series. Of the towers, the only portions yet visible are the cluster of arches that are to bear the clock tower, and the massive and most elaborately designed piers of the other, with the crown conspicuously sculptured on each side of the that will form the entrance. The state of the interior demands no particular mention, as the walls have scarcely yet reached the height of the principal floor, on which are the apartments and halls to which we have referred. It may here be observed that the architect proposes an extension of the original site marked out for his labours, which from its importance in enhancing the effect of the exterior of the pile, and the uses to which the additional space obtained may be turned, is likely enough to be acceded to either at present or at some future time. Mr. Barry observes,[n.133.1] |
In continuation, Mr. Barry points out the necessity
| of bringing more into accordance with the New Houses as respects elevation, outline, and character, and which is scarcely less necessary as regards the for the Houses, than for the convenience of the public itself, the steep ascent of the bridge being both dangerous and inconvenient.[n.134.1] He also urges the necessity of embanking the river on the south side, at all events, if it cannot be accomplished on the north also. |
And how imperatively such a road is needed for health, and for the making the Thames appear as so noble a river should, when surrounded by all the wealth and splendour and luxuries which it has done so much to create, we need not urge here: of course, the architect, whilst weighing these advantages, naturally feels anxious for so commanding a point of view of his structure as that part of the embankment directly opposite would form. As it is only fair that the south side should present something in return for the glorious view to be there enjoyed, Mr. Barry proposes that the arches be of considerable height, so as not to interfere with the waterside frontages of the wharfs, and of sufficient depth to allow of the erection of handsome masses of buildings for residence, along the back. We have not yet exhausted the architect's views of the improvement which it is desirable should accompany the erection of the Houses. He evidently warms with his subject.
The magnificence and far-sightedness of view apparent through all these arrangements need no comment nor illustration, unless it be to say, that if the architect's views should be carried out, it will be a question whether the works within or the works without the new palace will redound most to his honour; he will be, in a word, realising an approach to the almost sublime architectural views of Rufus when he built the famous hall, which Matthew Paris thus refers to, in a very interesting passage, not often transcribed:
observes the old chronicler,
Pretty well this, in relation to the largest hall in Europe unsupported by pillars!
would, we fear, however, in any age,
such a monarch
and Mr. Barry will not succeed in making Hall shrink in comparison to the dimensions of a bed-chamber; sufficient will it be, if all around us, before we enter, and all we find beyond after passing through it, be on such a scale as to make the Hall appear but of natural dimensions: that will be a triumph that may satisfy any reasonable ambition.
We now approach the great subject of decoration. Mr. Barry, it appears, proposes that all the plain surfaces of the walls, that is the parts not concealed by the paintings or the sculpture, be covered with suitable architectonic decoration, or diapered enrichment in colour, occasionally heightened with gold, and blended with armorial bearings, badges, cognizances, and other heraldic insignia, emblazoned in their proper colours. The groined roofs of Hall and the Octagon Hall to be similarly decorated, with, occasionally, works of art so interwoven with the diapered ground as not to disturb the architectural effect. The flat ceilings to be formed into compartments by moulded ribs, and enriched with carved heraldic and Tudor decorations, relieved by positive colours and gilding, with occasional gold ground, also diapered, and further enriched with legends and coloured heraldic devices. The screens, pillars, corbels, niches, window-dressings-and in parts also the door-jambs and fire-places, which are proposed to be of highly-polished British marbles--to be all decorated in the same gorgeous style. The floors to be formed of encaustic tiles, similarly enriched in colours and heraldic emblazonry, and laid, in combination with British marbles, in margins and compartments. The steps of the several staircases to be of solid marble. Lastly, the walls, to the height of or feet, to be lined with oak-framing, containing shields with armorial bearings, emblazoned in their proper colours, with an oak seat in all cases running along the front of and attached to the framing; the windows to be doubly glazed, to temper the light and prevent the direct rays of the sun from interfering with the due effect of the splendour within--the outer glazing consisting of plain ground glass, the inner of stained glass, richly blazoned with arms and other heraldic insignia, on a
|diapered warm yellowish ground, the whole set in an ornamental design in metal. Such are the proposed minor decorations of the new Houses; the greater ones will be those which the arts, in the loftiest sense of the word, shall spread over every wall, or range--as in sculpture-through every avenue. And here we must acknowledge there seems to us a great deal of room for improvement in the proposed plans of decoration; perhaps because there has not been sufficient opportunity for fairly maturing them. In order the better to explain our meaning, it will be only necessary to notice the proposals for the most important of those parts of the building which alone admit of extensive artistical operations, namely, the Victoria Gallery, the Central Hall, Hall, and Hall. The gallery will admit, it appears, of paintings, each about feet long by high, for which the chief subjects proposed are the most remarkable royal pageants of British history. Statues of Her present Majesty may fill each of the central niches at the ends of the hall, whilst the other niches, with the pedestals between the pictures, may receive statues of Her Majesty's ancestors. The statues to be of bronze, either partially or entirely gilt. The Central Hall cannot, from its form and divisions, receive any paintings, but may be extensively decorated with sculpture; as, in the centre, of a statue of Her Majesty, upon a rich pedestal of British marble, highly polished, and relieved in parts by gold and colour; whilst the statues in the niches of the walls and screens may represent, in chronological order, Her Majesty's ancestors, from the Heptarchy. In front of the clustered pillars in the angles of the hall, sedent statues of some of the great lawgivers of antiquity. The paintings of Hall it is proposed to make commemorative of great domestic events in British history, whilst the statues may represent celebrated statesmen, past, present, and future. In addition to these works, the upper portion of the hall will contain niches, which may be filled with the statues of the eminent men of the naval, military, and civil services of the country. Lastly, Hall, with its spaces on the walls for some pictures, of the largest dimensions, its statues on pedestals between them, and its proposed avenue through the central space, of additional statues, in number, is devoted in the plan to the representation, in the case, of the most splendid warlike achievements of English history, both by sea and land; in the , to the commemoration of naval and military commanders; and in the , to the similar commemoration of present and future statesmen whose services may be considered by Parliament to merit such a tribute to their memories. The dormer windows in the matchless timber roof are at the same time to be enlarged, in order that, while showing the latter to better advantage, sufficient light may be obtained for the due effect of the works of art. As to the idea of making the hall a depository, as in former times, of the trophies obtained in wars with foreign nations, we would humbly suggest that the times are past for such displays, which can answer no other purpose than that of fostering the evil passions and prejudices which are the true basis of war; and as there seems to be a mistake with regard to the fact alleged, the hall having never been so used before the reign of Anne, the worst possible time for obtaining ;precedents in matters of taste, we do hope we shall hear no more of tattered flags or rust-eaten weapons. Art may give us battle-fields, but then it will assuredly, if it be art, raise us into|
|a loftier region than the mere scene represents; the flag is a memento of the struggle, the bloodshed, the victory-nothing more. The , if it does descend from the calm and serene regions that it best loves, will do so to raise us up; the other can have no effect in these solemn halls of legislature but to lower the tone of thought and feeling when elevated to its highest pitch by the combined influences of architecture, painting, and sculpture in their loftiest developments.|
The chief objections we would venture to urge to these proposals for the arrangement of the paintings and the sculpture, are as follows:--, there seems to be no grand and harmonious idea pervading the whole, of which the different parts of the structure shall be each, to a certain point, a development; and secondly, the plan, as it is, would seem to imply that ours, whilst a very fair, respectable old country on the whole, and especially remarkable for sovereigns and heraldry, had yet very little history to boast of, or at least, very few great men, which is coming to the same thing, as they make history. How else are the striking repetitions to be accounted for? series of kings before the Conquest, and since, on the exterior; then the same thing again, in part, at least, in the Victoria Gallery, and yet again in the Central Hall; then, as to statues of Her Majesty- on the exterior, in the Victoria Gallery, in the middle of the Central Hall. As to the minor decorations, heraldic arms and insignia will meet us everywhere-floor, walls, roofs, windows; surely, it would give even greater effect to the decorations of this kind that are chosen (a meaning being attached to every of them that shall be worthy the pausing to find out), if they were fewer; whilst it would be in every sense better if the subjects or works of art
should come upon us more than
among these minor decorations. Or how, again, but on the hypothesis suggested, are we to account for the truly magnificent Victoria Gallery being devoted chiefly to mere royal pageants? But, thirdly, there is even a positive confusion of arrangement of the subjects: to say nothing of the statues of the lawgivers of antiquity, sitting in close juxta-position with such monarchs as Edward II. and Henry VIII., the inevitable result of the series system, we are to find in Hall, along the walls, pictures of naval and military achievements, with statues of naval and military men; very well: is not the Hall large enough, but that the niches in must be again devoted to them, with a sprinkling of eminent civilians? On the other hand, has not ample accommodation for all our
but that a double line of offshoots must press into the Hall of Rufus? If not, we can only say they must come very thick and fast in the said future, before the whole niches will be occupied.
It would be presumption in us, thus lightly scanning the subject, to attempt to answer the question of what ought to be done. But every suggestion that can be thrown out at the present time may, if not useful in itself, be the humble means of developing others that are; and in consequence, we venture to submit a few remarks. It appears, then, to the writer, that our object in such an inquiry should be to discover some principle, inherent in the building itself or in its associations, that shall afford, when looked, at in a large spirit, ample scope for
|illustrations, to be characterised throughout by their local fitness and universal. interest, by variety, and yet to be at the same time all so many harmonious manifestations of that principle. With public buildings it can seldom be difficult to find such a principle. Their history-when they have history-in which, of course, their uses are included, would be ; or their uses only, when they had not. Apply this to the Houses of Parliament, and what a field is at once opened. history is rich for the artist to hope to escape some uneasiness and anxiety as to the selection. Then, as to the local fitness, what, we may ask, would be the effect of making every hall and gallery and apartment tell their own story--that story, at the same time, being that England will never be tired of listening to? But is it practicable? A very moderate degree of diligence in the study of the history of the Houses would, we think, show that it is. At all events, we can answer decidedly for the principal portions of the structure. Do we want pictures, for instance, for the Speaker's apartments? Here is but of many waiting for the touch that shall describe them in more glowing language than the pen can command. The walls of the old are dimly visible in the back ground; the place is filled with the members in the highest state of excitement; Charles, the King, is in the front demanding the who have offended him; the Speaker, the chief figure, is on his knees, with a mingled look of firmness and respect, uttering his memorable words, that he had neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak, in that place, but as the House was pleased to direct him, whose servant he was there, and humbly begging pardon that he could give no other answer. With such pictures, and with portraits (and statues, if required) of such men, would we adorn the Speaker's apartments. Hall, as we have before had occasion to mention, occupies the exact site of the old House of Commons-now, as the new houses present no opportunity for the commemoration of the great events which have signalised the local history of the Lords and Commons, what better alternative than to take the Hall for that purpose? The right wall we would appropriate to the history of the Lords' House, the left to that of the Commons, as suggesting and harmonising with their respective positions. And, passing from thence, where our thoughts might rest undisturbed upon such memorials, what could be finer than the bustle, the reality, the life of the very thing itself memorialised, the contrast of what was with what is? It were idle to speak of individual subjects here. No reader but will at once be able to recall many and mighty ones to his mind. Of course, they would be arranged chronologically. Between the pictures, and everywhere corresponding with them in point of time, if not even still more intimately, statues of all the more eminent members of the Houses in past times would find their suitable home: orators, statesmen, patriots, philanthropists, philosophers; their order, and the known design of the place resolving the different elements of so goodly a company into perfect harmony. As the Octagon Hall lies midway between the Houses, ideas connected with the Crown which the estates on either side may be said to support, should determine the subjects for the chief statues, but ideas connected with it entirely in its public capacity, and as more immediately relating to the business of the legislature; in short, we would have here the monarchs who have distinguished themselves by their enlightened views and acts-legislative, governmental, legal, constitutional, commercial. Conspicuous, here, should be seen Alfred. In the|
| stern features of Edward I. we would here forget the ravager of Scotland and Wales in remembering the services of the English Justinian. The smaller statues in the niches might be happily filled with the servants of the Crown and of the people, who have by their labours in the council, the closet, or on the bench, made memorable their names in connection with the same subjects. And, as your chief legal reformers in the middle ages were the mailed barons, the statues of the men of Runnymede should not be absent. There remain, now, the grand approaches; the for royalty through the gallery, the for the people through the old hall. They should, in consequence, without descending to repetition, present a kind of fine uniformity of toneand feeling; both should prepare the mind generally for the better examination and study and enjoyment of all that relates to the essential business of the Houses, which, according to the suggestions thus hastily made, would be more and more evident to the eye, as we approached nearer and nearer; both also should have reference to those for whose instruction art pours forth its hoarded treasures of thought and feeling, of beauty, grandeur, and sublimity. Let, then, the Victoria Gallery be a royal gallery let the Hall be the people's. Let the be devoted to a grand chronological series of statues, as proposed by the architect, of all the sovereigns of England, whilst the paintings, between and above, shall represent the great or noble events in which the sovereigns of England have been personally, as it were, engaged (especially choosing subjects, where practicable, that mark excellence and nobility of personal character), and where nothing truly worthy of commemoration of this kind presents itself, then of the greatest events which signalised the reign. How many fine morals |
to the most cursory observer? It may be observed in passing, that mere personal histories or incidents relating to our monarchs would find suitable place in the robing-room; and battle-subjects, naval and military, would be happily placed in the adjoining guard-room. Such might be the approach of royalty. Hall demands more careful consideration, if it be only that its own history and associations are too high and important to be at once thrown overboard, even for the development of a good principle. Fortunately, there is no need. That history furnishes, with something like chronological regularity, a series of events from the very earliest time, bound up with its own walls and roofs (and never may they be disunited), most of which are at the same time among the events of general history which artists are constantly selecting for their pencils on account of their universal interest. Were it only for the sake of the fine old hall, these, from the size of the pictures representing them, should predominate, and form, indeed, a something as closely appertaining to the hall, as its roof or its floor. But something still would be required. Here is the hall, with its glorious past history written on the walls; but the history is not complete; what is the hall now?-The people's approach to the imperial legislature: then let the remainder of the paintings tell that part of the history too. As the Victoria Gallery has honoured, wherever circumstances would permit, the sovereign, let the hall honour all that history has shown to be peculiarly deserving of honour in the people. This, like all the other parts of our subject, is a vast and almost unexplored field; but the principle indicated would, we think, guide in safety through it. particular illustration we must mention; we would include
|illustrious individual examples of the virtues that adorn the citizen, or that endear and elevate the social life. The statues round the walls should be but additional manifestations of the principles of arrangement--the history of the hall and the history of the people. What remains? The central space is yet unfilled. We scarcely mention the words before we fear we are anticipated in the idea of the use to which we would devote it. Legislation, law, government, can doubtless influence, to some degree, the characters and happiness of the people, but are themselves too much a mere reflex of the people to do so to any very material extent; who are then the men who do mould and temper, soften and elevate, and so prepare the way for an advance in the only possible mode of advance, that is, by general mental and moral improvement? Who, but the great poets, and philosophers, the men of science, art, and literature? Here, then, midway, as it were, between the outer world and the powers which rule it, is their place: could we desire a nobler or more fitting connection between the ?|
And now, quitting the subject of decoration, with a rapid notice of the history of the Hall we must conclude. It was built by Rufus in all probability for the express use to which it was for a considerable period afterwards chiefly devoted, that of a grand banqueting hall for royalty, on occasions of high festivals, as holydays and coronations; for which last purpose it has only ceased to be used in our own time. In our account of , we have had occasion to speak generally on the subject of the coronations of our kings, and the ensuing feasts; we shall only therefore now add an interesting incident from Holinshed, relating to a coronation, not long after the erection of the hall. Henry II., having obtained the assent of a General Assembly of his subjects, met together at Windsor, caused his son Henry to be crowned in his own life-time, and when the feast took place in the great hall, a striking scene was presented. The old king himself,
So ingenious a youth could be at no loss under any circumstances to find reasons for what it pleased him to do. It is a pity we have not an equally accurate record of his notions as to the fitness of his subsequent and repeated appearance in arms against his parent. Hospitality was a marked feature of the old English character, and no where did it appear on such a magnificent scale as in Hall, when royalty was the bounteous host. Henry III. seems to have especially distinguished himself for his liberality. On the day of St. Edward (-), whom he held, it seems, in especial honour, he feasted sumptuously an innumerable multitude, among whom were the citizens of London, tempted hither
| by the extraordinary invitation of a royal edict which subjected them to a penalty of if they stayed away. The disturbed political aspect of the time was the cause, we presume, of the very un-citizen-like reluctance here indicated. At another feast given by Henry, on account of the marriage of his brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, dishes were prepared for the dinner. But the best of these feasts were the ones given by Henry to the poor; he is said to have had not only this but the little hall before mentioned, filled with them, year after year, on the day of his saint. Another use to which the hall was turned, and very naturally, on account of its size and imposing magnificence, was that of holding in it public assemblies of a very extraordinary kind, and subsequently of Parliaments, which sat here before the division into Houses, and where the Lords still continued to meet after. In , the Hall was the scene of an awful exhibition. The king we have just referred to had so often broken every promise made to his parliament of observing the charters, that when, in that year, he wanted money from it, he could obtain his wishes only on the condition of a fresh and most solemn confirmation of the public liberties. So on the , he met, in the Hall, the barons, prelates, and abbots, the latter in full canonicals, and bearing each a lighted taper. was also offered to the king, who refused it, saying he was no priest. The Archbishop of Canterbury then publicly denounced excommunication against all who should infringe the charters; and amongst part of the terrific ceremonies which took place, the prelates and abbots threw their tapers on the ground, and exclaimed, as the lights disappeared in smoke, |
The king, acknowledging the application of the whole proceeding, subjoined,
The ceremony over, Henry speedily resorted to his old habits; the scene in the Hall became but afaded dream. Turn we now to a public event of a more agreeable nature. After the famous entry of the French King and the Black Prince into London, the procession passed on to , where Edward III. sat on his throne in the Hall to receive his august prisoner. can hardly avoid something like a sentiment of affection towards the memory of both father and son for their whole conduct in this business, however little else in their characters there may be to inspire such sentiments in any but warlike spirits. As John entered the Hall, Edward descended from his seat, embraced him, and led him with the greatest possible respect to the banquet prepared. For some time the French King remained a guest in the Palace, but subsequently the Savoy was prepared for him. There, as Polydore Vergil informs us, he was frequently visited by Edward, his queen, his son, and other members of the royal family, who strove by various means to soothe his sorrow. Failing in their indirect endeavours, Edward and the Prince begged him to lay aside his melancholy and derive consolation from cheerful thoughts. The unhappy monarch answered in the words of the Psalmist, and with a mournful smile, c
The reign of Richard II. was in every way a noticeable for the Hall. It was then rebuilt essentially as we now see it, and the wonderful roof thrown across. The northern
| front was then also added. If any of the Norman work remained it was cased up, and lost. The expense attending this rebuilding was defrayed, as the original expense had been, by a tax upon foreigners. During the rebuilding, Richard built a temporary wooden house for the Parliament, which was open on all sides, that constituents might see what was going on; and, as Pennant slyly remarks, |
This was but the beginning of the end which the Hall was to be the scene of; it was on the , that the Parliament being assembled, the renunciation of the crown by Richard II. was read and accepted by the Parliament, at the close of which an anxious and deeply-interested observer stepped forward, and, making the sign of the cross upon his breast, said aloud,
no doubt greeted the claim. In Richard III. we have another claimer of thrones out of the usual order of succession, and on the same spot. An amusing instance of his duplicity, or perhaps it may be called of his policy, for had matters gone well with him we should probably have found he had something better in him than cunning to make a governor, is preserved in Holinshed. Having assumed the crown, he made an open proclamation that he put out of his mind all enmities, and did pardon thus openly all offences committed against him.
[n.142.1] The last important use to which the Hall has been put, is that of State Trials, of which it boasts a truly memorable series. Here, in , the great Chancellor More was tried, and after sentence, and or attempts to speak, which were prevented by his judges, electrified them by his boldness in saying that what he had hitherto concealed, he would now openly declare, that the oath of supremacy (in not taking which his guilt in the king's eyes consisted) was utterly unlawful. As he moved from the bar, his son rushed through the hall, fell on his knees and besought his blessing. years later Henry himself presided at a trial, that of Lambert for heresy; the scene is represented in our engraving. With Lady Jane Grey's relatives, the Duke of Norfolk, Strafford, and Charles I., continues the long list. A view of the Hall, during this last-named tremendous event, is here given. Then we have, beyond Charles's time, the trial and acquittal (rare occurrences here were acquittals, and implying, when they did happen, the worst of political crimes, according to some writers-namely, a most serious blunder) of the Bishops in James the 's time; the trials of Balmerino and his gallant companions,
|for their support of the same James's descendants; and, most recent of all the very important trials, that of Warren Hastings in . Of the building we may add that it was new-fronted and largely repaired during the reign of George IV., and that within the last few years extensive reparations of the stone-work of the interior have been carried on. It is now, we believe, considered to be in as fine a state of preservation in all essential respects, as the admirers of a building so trebly rich in its age, architecture, and history, could desire. Many different|
|accounts have been given of the dimensions of the Hall, and, in consequence, we hardly know what authority to trust to; Mr. Barry's, we presume, must be from actual admeasurement; and the result is feet long, feet wide, and feet high. This is considerably less than Pennant's, namely, feet long by feet broad; he, however, may have included the depth of the walls.|
[n.133.1] In his Report to the Commissioners on the Fine Arts, recently published in their Second Report.
[n.134.1] Professor Hosking, the able lecturer on architecture, at King's College, was amongst the first to suggest such an alteration of Westminster Bridge as should make it at once convenient, and in harmony with the great building near it.
[n.142.1] Chronicles, vol. iii. p. 397. Transcribed from Britton and Brayley.
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|CHAPTER CXXVI: Education in London. No. 1, Ancient|
|CHAPTER CXXVII: Education in London. No. 2, Modern|
|CHAPTER CXXVIII: The Old Jewry|
|CHAPTER CXXIX: Old Trading Companies|
|CHAPTER CXXX: Public Statues|
|CHAPTER CXXXI: College of Arms|
|CHAPTER CXXXII: Houses of the Old Nobility|
|CHAPTER CXXXIII: Buchingham and Old Westminster Palaces|
|CHAPTER CXXXIV: Westminster hall and the New Houses of Parliament|
|CHAPTER CXXXV: The Lord Mayor's Show|
|CHAPTER CXXXVI: The British Museum|
|CHAPTER CXXXVII: Music|
|CHAPTER CXXXVIII: The Squares of London|
|CHAPTER CXXXIX: The Stationers' Company|
|CHAPTER CXL: Bills of Mortality|
|CHAPTER CXLI: The National gallery and Soane Museum|
|CHAPTER CXLII: The Metropolitan Boroughs|
|CHAPTER CXLIII: Exhibitions of Art|
|CHAPTER CXLIV: The Stock Exchange|
|CHAPTER CXLV: Railway Termini|
|CHAPTER CXLVI: Military London|
|CHAPTER CXLVII: Endowed and Miscellaneous Charities|
|CHAPTER CXLVIII: Tattersall's|
|CHAPTER CXLIX: Learned Societies|
|CHAPTER CL: Courts of Law|