Middlesex GuildhallThe Middlesex Guildhall
The Middlesex Guildhall is a building on the south-west corner of Parliament Square in London. It is currently closed for refurbishment for use as the site of the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It had previously been used as a Crown Court centre and was previously used by Middlesex County Council.
The bulk of the current building was built between 1906 and 1913, designed by J S Gibson, in what Pevsner termed an art nouveau gothic theme, and decorated with mediæval-looking gargoyles and other architectural sculptures, some by Henry Charles Fehr. It incorporates in the rear a doorway dating from the 17th century, a part of the Tothill Fields Bridewell prison which used to stand on the site. Westminster was not in the administrative county of Middlesex even at the time of its construction; however, the county council was based here.
Controversy over conversion
From October 2009, the Guildhall will accommodate the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom established in law by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Renovation plans were developed by architects Feilden+Mawson LLP, supported by Foster & Partners.
These plans have attracted much controversy from conservation groups, due to accusations that the conversion will be unsympathetic to such an important building. The Middlesex Guildhall is a Grade II* listed building and the statement of importance by English Heritage on August 26, 2004 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".
The conversion works proposed would envisage many of the current fixtures and fittings being removed. SAVE Britain's Heritage states that "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."
References and external links
- ^ Hansard - Commons | Houses of Parliament
- ^ Department for Constitutional Affairs - Constitutional Reform