Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Historic Occasion: Pope to give address in Westminster Hall

Westminster Hall

The Trial of Charles I in Westminster Hall c. 1850
Oil painting
87.5cm (h) x 74.6cm (w)
The Houses of Parliament, London

Alfred Egerton Cooper 1883-1974
Lying-in-State of Winston Churchill in Westminster Hall, 1965
Oil painting
58.9cm (h) x 89cm
The Houses of Parliament, London

Dennis Creffield (b. 1931)
Westminster Hall Evening, 1990 (1990)
Charcoal drawing
78cm (h) x 56cm (w)
The House of Commons, London

Sophie Knight (b.1965)
Staircase, Westminster Hall 1996
The Houses of Parliament, London

Archbishop Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, has indicated some of the historical milestones in Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom.

The Pope will speak in Westminster Hall for what the Archbishop has called "possibly the most important address of the whole visit."

"In that historic setting which captures so much of the history of this country, which poignantly is the place where Thomas More was condemned to death," the archbishop noted, "he will address civic society, and I’m quite sure will start at the point at which everybody can enter.

"And he will encourage, he’ll invite, he will as you were try to cast a bit of light."

Westminster Hall is the oldest building on the the Estate of the Houses of Parliament. It dates from the 11th Century.

It has been the scene of many notable events in the history of the United Kingdom.

It has been the scene of many famous trials. As well as hosting the trial of King Charles I, it has been the scene of the trials of Saint Thomas More (1535); John Cardinal Fisher (1535); Edmund Campion and other Jesuits (1581) as well as Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot conspirators (1606).

More recently it has been used for ceremonial occasions such as the lying in state of deceased Monarchs and Sir Winston Churchill (1965), and the addresses of certain distinguished Heads of State (a rare event) when addressing both Houses of Parliament, such as President de Gaulle of France, President Reagan and President Nelson Mandela.