On this day in 1265, Simon de Montfort convened what is widely regarded as England’s first representative Parliament at Westminster Hall (before 1265, Parliament, or its precursor, had met in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey, and after 1548, it met in the then-secularised Royal Chapel of St Stephen in the Palace of Westminster).
Also, on this day in 1649, the trial for treason of Charles I began here.
Westminster Hall was originally built as a royal residence cum banqueting house by William II, Rufus, in 1097-99; and rebuilt, with a spectacular hammerbeam roof, by Hugh Herland and Henry Yevele, for Richard II, in 1394-1401. It once formed part of the Old Palace of Westminster, work on which is believed to have begun, under Cnut, as long ago as 1016. Together with the adjacent Jewel Tower, it is essentially the only part of the old palace to have survived the terrible fires of 1512 and 1834 (the present, new palace was built, in the Victorian Gothic style, between 1837-70). It was itself damaged by fire during the Blitz of the Second World War, and has since been further damaged by Death Watch Beetle, the infestation thought to have taken hold in timbers that had become soaked during the war-time fire-fighting.
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