Old Middlesex Guild Hall Chimeras -- Parliament Square, Westminster, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 51° 30.027 W 000° 07.680
30U E 699332 N 5709390
Quick Description: Chimeras of beautiful women holding symbols of power in the back and powerful historical figures decorate the front of the former Middlesex Guild Hall (now the UK Supreme Court Building) near Parliament Square
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 9/30/2016 11:40:26 AM
Waymark Code: WMT5Q2
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member fi67
Views: 4

Long Description:
The UK Supreme Court Building, housed since 2007 in the old Middlesex Guildhall, bears multiple chimeras all around the building..

From Wikipedia: (visit link)

"The Middlesex Guildhall is the home of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It stands on the south-west corner of Parliament Square in London.


The location in Parliament Square was the site of the belfry of Westminster Abbey and it was used as a market from 1750 to 1800. The justices of the City and Liberty of Westminster took it over and an octagonal guildhall with a Doric portico was constructed by Samuel Pepys Cockerell in 1805. In 1889 Westminster became part of the County of London, outside the county of Middlesex. In the division of property between the Middlesex and London county councils, the guildhall at Westminster went to Middlesex in exchange for the Middlesex Sessions House in Clerkenwell. A neo-Tudor guildhall was constructed on the site in 1893 by F. H. Pownall.

The current building was built between 1912 and 1913, designed by J. S. Gibson, in what Pevsner called an "art nouveau gothic" style, and decorated with medieval-looking gargoyles and other architectural sculptures by Henry Charles Fehr. The county council and the Middlesex sessions were abolished in 1965 and the Guildhall continued to be used by the Greater London Quarter Sessions. After the abolition of the Quarter Sessions it was used as a Crown Court centre.

The Guildhall incorporates in the rear a doorway dating from the seventeenth century which was a part of the Tothill Fields Bridewell prison and moved to the site to be incorporated in the building.

The Middlesex Guildhall was closed for refurbishment in 2007 in order to convert it for use as the site of the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Supreme Court, established in law by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, came into being on 1 October 2009.

Controversy over conversion

After the government chose the Middlesex Guildhall as home for the new Supreme Court, it was realised that a great deal of work was required to renovate the building and adapt it to the new use. Renovation plans were developed by architects Feilden+Mawson LLP, supported by Foster & Partners.

These plans attracted much controversy from conservation groups, which claimed that the conversion would be unsympathetic to such an important building. The Middlesex Guildhall is a Grade II* listed building, and the statement of importance by English Heritage classed the three main Court interiors as "unsurpassed by any other courtroom of the period in terms of the quality and completeness of their fittings" on 26 August 2004.

The conversion works involved the removal of many of the original fixtures and fittings. SAVE Britain's Heritage stated, "No other owner of a Grade II* listed building would be allowed to strip out interiors of this quality on the basis of a vague promise to display a few key pieces in the basement and find a home for the rest in some other building not yet designed or built."

More on the identities and scenes depicted on the frieze over the main entrance are found on the excellent Victorian Web blog here: (visit link)

"Frieze by Henry Charles Fehr (1867-1940). Middlesex Guildhall, Parliament Square, London. Architect: J. S. Gibson and Partners. Portland Stone. 1906-1913. The "new" Guildhall building of this date features "[f]ine sculptured details with deep, figured, relief frieze above and to the sides of the entrance extending over canted bay-towers" ("Middlesex Guildhall"). Above the arch over the main entry, Henry III, standing on the left, grants a charter to the Abbey of Westminster, with church and abbey hierarchy and acolytes in attendance. The Guildhall was originally built on the site of Westminster Abbey's Sanctuary Tower and Belfry. Photographs by Robert Freidus and Jacqueline Banerjee, text by JB, and formatting by George P. Landow, 2011.

Left: Close-up of Henry III. It is amazing to see this much detail, for example, even in the "embroidery" of the robes. Peter Cormack talks of the "crispness" that characterises Fehr's sculptures (108). Some of this must be put down to his highly skilled Italian stone-carver, Carl Domenico Magnoni (1871-c.1950). Right: King John with the Barons at Runnymede, where he affixed his seal to the Magna Carta. The King, looking suitably flattened, is flanked by two churchmen. Some monks are also present.

Left: Closer view of some of the Barons with their pages, looking stalwart and resolute. In the middle is one of the monks, holding a Bible. Right: This is the scene to the right of the entrance, matching King John and the Barons on the other side. It shows Lady Jane Grey being offered the crown by her father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland. Her husband stands next to her. These three would all be considered traitors, and beheaded — a scene chosen, perhaps, as a warning. Again, the amount of detail is stunning.

Left: Close-up of Lady Jane Grey, her hand close to the proffered crown. Upper right: Two of the well-endowed angels, with thickly feathered wings, that serve as corbels to the balcony projecting on the Broad Sanctuary side of the building. Looked at from this angle, they are rather like ships' figureheads. One bears a shield with scales, the symbol of justice; the other holds an orb and a sceptre, the symbols of power. These and the other sturdy, earthy angels come as a surprise after the courtly scenes on the frieze, but are very much in keeping with the neo-Gothic elements of the building. Note, however, that their faces are the usual dreamy, Art Nouveau faces that we find in other Fehr sculptures (e.g. Peace on his Leeds war memorial).

Left: Tiny keystone figures peep down over the windows, these two apparently representing sculpture and painting. This kind of playfulness, which is reminiscent of William Burges, is quite unusual on a civic building, and very entertaining. Right: A craftsman with a small model of a temple in one hand, and what looks like a window-trowel in the other. His expression is one of stern concentration."
Water spout is used: no

Condition: Lightly Weathered

Search for...
Geocaching.com Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Gargoyles and Chimeras
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log  
Master Mariner visited Old Middlesex Guild Hall Chimeras -- Parliament Square, Westminster, UK 10/4/2016 Master Mariner visited it
Benchmark Blasterz visited Old Middlesex Guild Hall Chimeras -- Parliament Square, Westminster, UK 7/23/2016 Benchmark Blasterz visited it

View all visits/logs