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House during the sitting of parliament may be obtained on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, when the LordChancellor hears appeals; and on Saturdays, from eleven till five o'clock, by tickets, to be had by application at the Lord-Chancellor's office, every Wednesday.
THE HOUSE OF COMMONS At present holds its sittings in a temporary apartment, fitted up after the fire, in 1834, for its accommodation. It is a spacious room, with galleries round the walls, in one of which strangers are admitted to hear the debates. Admission may be obtained by an order from a member. During the recess the House may be seen by strangers, on payment of a small fee to those who have the charge of it.
WESTMINSTER HALL New Palace-yard, was built as a banquetting room to the ancient palace of Westminster, by William Rufus, in 1097, and considerably enlarged by Richard II. in 1397. It is one of the largest rooms in Europe unsupported by pillars, being two hundred and thirty-eight feet long, sixty-eight feet broad, and ninety feet high ; and has a most noble carved roof, of chestnut wood, most euriously constructed, and of a noble species of Gothic.
It is everywhere adorned with angels, supporting the arms of Richard II. or those of Edward the Confessor; as is the stone moulding that runs round the Hall, with the hart couchant under a tree, and other devices of the former monarch. Parliament often sat in this Hall. In 1097, when it was extremely ruinous, Richard II. built a temporary room for his parliament, formed of wood, and covered with tiles. The fine Gothic windows at the extremities were reconstructed in 1820, and the whole Hall repaired and beautified during the two following years, and again partially after the burning of the houses of parliament, in 1834. The front is adorned with two stone towers, ornamented with rich sculpture; and on the centre of the roof is a lantern of considerable height, erected in 1821.
The Courts of Chancery, Exchequer, Queen's Bench, and Common Pleas, have been held in different apartments of this Hall ever since the reign of Henry III. It was within these walls that Charles I. was brought to trial, in 1648. It has also been used for the trials of peers, and other distinguished persons, accused of high treason, or other crimes and misdemeanors, such as the late Lord Melville, Warren Hastings, &c. In the Hall likewise are held the coronation feasts of the sovereigns of England.
THE LAW COURTS, Westminster: erected from the designs of Sir John Soane. These courts form a handsome range along the west side of Westminster Hall; but it is to be regretted that the architecture does not harmonise with that venerable structure, and still less with the florid style of the new Houses of Parliament. They comprise the Court of Chancery, the Courts of Common Pleas, Exchequer, and Queen's Bench; all of them being accessible on two sides, from the Hall and from the street, free.
The brilliant eloquence of the bar is here exerted during term time; and an hour may be pleasantly employed in attending to the rallies.
Those bricky towers,
Till they decayed through pride.-Spenser. The temple is an irregular pile of buildings, so called from having been anciently the residence of an order denominated Knights Templars, who settled here in the reign of Henry II. Led by indolence and luxury from the rigid obligations of a religious life, they were suppressed in 1310, when their vast possessions fell to the
Knights of St. John, who soon after let the buildings on this spot to students-at-law, and in the possession of that class it has since continued. It is now divided into two societies, called the Inner and Middle Temples, and having the name, in common with other law societies in London, of inns of court. There are two entrances from Fleet-street; that of the Inner Temple opposite the south end of Chancery-lane; and the other, to the Middle Temple, nearer to Temple-Bar.
The Inner Temple Hall is a small but fine room, ornamented with portraits of several of the judges. Before the Hall is a spacious garden, laid out with great care and kept in perfect order. It lies along the river, and has a spacious gravel walk or terrace on the water's edge. In the summer evenings it is an agreeable and much frequented resort. Open from six o'clock till dusk.
The Hall of the Middle Temple is spacious and elegant, and has been the scene of many festive meetings. The garden is small, but pleasant and retired; and is said to have been the scene of the first fatal quarrel between the Houses of York and Lancaster.
LINCOLN'S INN, Situated to the south of Holborn, and adjoining Chancery-lane, derives its name from Henry de Lacey, Earl of Lincoln, who had a stately mansion on this spot, which, just before his death, in 1310, he appropriated to the study of the law. It has a handsome chapel, built by Inigo Jones, in which is a tablet to the memory of Mr. Spencer Percival; a spacious hall; and a library, well stocked with books and manuscripts, on parliamentary, judicial, and forensic subjects. Contiguous to the Hall is the Vice-Chancellor's Court, erected in 1816.