At the upper End of this Hall is a long Marble Stone of twelve Foot in Length, and three Foot in Breadth. And there also is a Marble Chair, where the Kings of England formerly sate at their Coronation Dinners; and at other solemn Times, the Lord Chancellor. But now not to be seen, being built over by the two Courts of Chancery and King's Bench. At this Marble Stone divers Matters used to be transacted. Here Henry de Cliff, Clerk of the Rolls, took his Oath in the Presence of the Lord Chancellor.]

A Marble Stone, where the Kings used to sit.

J. S.

Claus. E. 2. Manley's Interp.

It moreover appeareth, that many Parliaments have been kept there: For I find noted, that in the Year 1397, the great Hall at Westminster, being out of Reparations; and therefore, as it were, new builded by Richard the Second, (as is afore-shewed) the same Richard in the mean Time having Occasion to hold a Parliament, caused (for that Purpose) a large House to be builded in the Midst of the Palace Court, betwixt the Clock Tower, and the Gate of the old great Hall. This House was very large and long, made of Timber, covered with Tyle, open on both Sides, and at both Ends, that all Men might see and hear what was both said and done. The King's Archers, in Number 4000, Cheshire Men, compassed the House about with their Bows bent, and Arrows nocked in their Hands, always ready to shoot: They had Bouch of Court (to wit, Meat and Drink) and great Wages, of six Pence by the Day.

Parliaments kept in Westminster Hall.

A House for the Parliament, built in the Palace Court.

Bouch of Court.

I find of Record the 50th of Edw. the 3d, that the Chapter House of the Abbot of Westminst. was then the usual House for the Commons in Parliament.

The old great Hall being new builded, Parliaments were again there kept as before; namely, one in the Year 1399, for deposing of Richard the Second.

And now for a long Time, the Place of the Sitting of the Parliament remains at the King's said ancient Palace: The Lords in a fair Room, and the Commons in that which was formerly St. Stephen's Chapel.

J. S.

The Parliament is the highest and most absolute Court of Record in the Kingdom. The Power and Authority thereof, a great Statesman in former Times, as well as of excellent Learning and Knowledge in the Manner of the Government of England, thus sets down: "That which is done by this Consent, [viz. of the two Houses, and the Prince himself, in Presence of both Parties] is firm, stable, and Sanctum. It abrogateth old Laws, and maketh new; giveth Order for Things past, and for Things hereafter to be followed; changeth Rights and Possessions of private Men; legitimateth Bastards; establisheth Forms of Religion; altereth Weights and Measures; giveth Forms of Succession to the Crown; defineth of doubtful Rights, whereof is no Law already made; appointeth Subsidies, Tailes, Taxes, and Impositions; giveth most free Pardons and Absolutions; restoreth in Blood and Name; and as the highest Court, condemneth or absolveth them whom the Prince will put to that Tryal. And, to be short, all that People of Rome might do, either in Centuriatis Comitiis, or Tributis* , the same may be done by the Parliament of England: Which representeth and hath the Power of the whole Realm, both the Head and the Body."

The Authority of the Court of Parliament.

Sir Th. Smith's Comm. Wealth, p. 46. Edit. 1589.

*Alias {query}Tributitus.

The Acts of Parliament, publick or private, be all kept, and remain in the Custody of the Clerks of the Parliament.]

A great Part of this Palace at Westminster was once again burnt in the Year 1512, the fourth of Henry the Eighth; since which Time it hath not been re-edified: Only the great Hall, with the Offices near adjoining, are kept in good Reparations, and serveth, as afore it did, for Feasts at Coronations, Arraignments of great Persons charged with Treasons, keeping of the Courts of Justice, &c. But the Princes have been lodged in other Places about the City, as at Baynard's Castle, at Bridewell, and Whitehall, (sometime called York-Place) and sometime at St. James's.

This Royal Hall hath of later Times been used for the hanging up Trophies taken from the Enemy, in Sign of Victory. I remember, when I was a Boy, I saw the Hall hung full, on one Side, with Colours and Standards taken from the Scots at Worcester Fight. But upon K. Charles the Second his coming to his just Right, all taken down.

Trophies taken from Enemies hung up here.

J. S.

On Wednesday the 3d of January 1704, were brought from the Tower through the City, and passed by the Exchange about Change Time, 34 Standards, and 128 Colours, taken from the French at the Battle of Bleinheim in Bavaria; attended by Horse Grenadiers one Troop, a Detachment of the Troop of Horse Guards, and many other Soldiers.

Standards and Colours taken from the French at the Battle of Bleinheim, hang here.

They were brought through the Paille Maille, and so through St. James's Park, where the Queen and his Royal Highness took a View of them; and so convey'd to Westminster Hall, where they were hung up, and do fill both Sides of the Hall. The Motto's of some of them, shewing the boasting and somewhat blasphemous French Spirit, were these:

Ingenito solem veneratur amore.

Jovis obruit Hostes.

Victoria pinget.

Arduus ad Solem.

Alter post Fulmina Terror.

In regnum pugnas.

Pugnatur pro Deo & Rege.

In Lillii fortior, &c.]

This great Hall hath been the usual Place of Pleadings, and Administration of Justice, whereof somewhat shortly I will note.

This Hall the Place of pleading Causes.

Magna Charta.

In Times past, the Courts and Benches followed the King, wheresoever he went, as well since the Conquest, as before. Which Thing at length being thought cumbersom, painful, and chargeable to the People; it was in the Year 1224, the 9th of Henry the Third, agreed, that there should be a standing [or common] Place appointed, where Matters should be heard and judged, which was in the great Hall at Westminster.

Vide Sir Th. Smith's Common Wealth, Ch. II.

Common Place in Westminster Hall.

In this Hall he ordained three Judgment Seats, to wit, at the Entry on the right Hand, the Common Pleas, where civil Matters are to be pleaded, especially such as touch Lands or Contracts. At the upper End of the Hall, on the right Hand, or South East Corner, the King's Bench, where Pleas of the Crown have their Hearing: And on the left Hand, or South West Corner, sitteth the Lord Chancellor, accompanied with the Master of the Rolls, and with certain other of the eleven Men (learned for the most Part in the civil Law, and called Masters of the Chancery) which have the King's Fee.

Three Judgment Seats.

T. Smith.

Court of the Chancery.

The Times of pleading in these Courts are four in the Year, which are called Terms.

Four Terms.

The first is Hilary Term, which beginneth the three and twentieth of January, if it be not Sunday, and endeth the twelfth of February.

The second is Easter Term, and beginneth seventeen Days after Easter Day, and endeth four Days after Ascension Day.