This door to the Supreme Court building stands on the western edge of Thorney Island, which originally belonged to Westminster Abbey in London. Thorney Island was in the delta of the Tyburn stream, now culverted over, that flows into the Thames. Edward the Confessor lived there while he was building his church of St Peter’s where Westminster Abbey now stands.
The 13th century Old Belfry on Thorney Island, and Westminster Abbey’s Sanctuary Tower and is where fugitives could seek refuge from their pursuers. The Old Belfry was converted to tenements at the Dissolution. Evidence of this building was recorded both in 1775. Remains of piled foundations used for the belfry and medieval and Saxon features may still exist.
Today’s art nouveau Gothic style building built of Portland stone and designed by architect James Gibson was completed in 1913.
The entrance to the Supreme Court is a segmental arched deep set portal with great segmental arched window above, framed by canted bay turrets. The main portico has a figure of Britannia supported by the spirits of architecture, literature, government, sculpture, music, truth, law, seafaring, wisdom and education by sculptor Henry Fehr.
Encircle the building are stone sculptures of King John handing the Magna Carta to the barons at Runnymede, the granting of the charter of Westminster Abbey, and the Duke of Northumberland offering the crown of England to Lady Jane Grey.
The building’s tower, with arched windows and lofty stone chimney stacks, is decorated with stone carvings, parapets and dormers. A band of old English heraldic yales (a mythical antelope- or goat-like four-legged creature with large horns that it can swivel in any direction), lions, and unicorns, with Tudor roses, thistles, shields and arms circle the tower. The gargoyle figures are four angels of the winds and the four angels of protection. And in a niche in the parapet is a figure representing government.
In 1964 the nearly 1,000-year-old Middlesex Guild ceased its administrative and judicial functions. The Guildhall was converted in the 1980s to a Crown Court center with criminal courtrooms. Then in October 1, 2009 judicial authority was transferred from the House of Lords (evolved over more than 600 years, originally from the royal court) to the Supreme Court for the United Kingdom; which is in the former Middlesex Guildhall on Parliament Square. The Supreme Court is near the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Treasury. Restored to full splendor, the building houses the highest court in the United Kingdom.
Created for Norm’s Thursday Doors March 31, 2016