100 years of the Middlesex Guildhall
100 years of the Middlesex Guildhall exhibition
Thursday 1 August to Friday 27 September 2013 (weekdays only, except Bank Holiday Monday)
0930 to 1630
Lobby, Second Floor
This year's temporary exhibition during the Court's summer recess celebrates the centenary of the home of the Supreme Court and the JCPC: the former Middlesex Guildhall.
- Discover the stories of a young man tried for spying on Queen Victoria in her bedchamber, a former church belfry converted into a pub, and foreign courts sitting in central London during World War II;
- Explore the historic artworks on display in the Supreme Court by painters including Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds with our interactive database;
- See a range of valuable silverware from the Middlesex Guildhall Art Collection, including items used by the former Middlesex Justices and others during meals together;
- Younger visitors can take part in creative activities based on the history of the building.
The free exhibition opens to the public on Thursday 1 September and charts 100 years of the Middlesex Guildhall, which originally opened on its prominent Parliament Square site in 1913 as home for Quarter Sessions courts and Middlesex County Council. For more than 50 years it served as the headquarters for the county’s administration, with the main council chamber and key public departments using offices alongside space for judges, juries, witnesses and defendants.
The exhibition explores the history of the site stretching back almost one thousand years, during which time it has always been connected with the administration of justice and local democracy. The illustrated panels and exhibits explore each stage of the site’s life, from early beginnings as a place of sanctuary in the shadows of Westminster Abbey and the first sessions house built for the Middlesex Justices in 1805, through to two rebuilds of the Guildhall on the same site before the major refurbishment of the building to become the home of the UK Supreme Court in 2009.
Middlesex was abolished as an administrative county in the major changes to local government in London in 1965, but the building’s role as a hub for local justice continued, with the move to serving as a Crown Court from 1971. The exhibition includes material about each stage of the building's life, with a particular focus on the planning and design of the present Guildhall by James Gibson and Henry Fehr between 1911-1913.
The exhibition is now open to the public from 9.30am – 4.30pm on weekdays until the end of September (plus the Open House London weekend, 21 and 22 September), when Supreme Court sittings resume after the summer recess. Admission is free.