Hicks Hall

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Hicks Hall was the first purpose-built sessions house for Justices of the Peace in Clerkenwell. The area at the time was in the county of Middlesex, but now is part of Greater London.

History[edit]

The building, which was paid for by wealthy fabric merchant Sir Baptist Hicks (or Hickes), 1st Viscount Campden, opened in 1611 on land that had been granted to the magistrates of Middlesex by James I the previous year.

At the first session in the new building, it was resolved that the building would be named "Hicks-hall" in honour of its patron. For more than 160 years, Hicks Hall was used to hear cases in the county of Middlesex. It is mentioned in many contemporary reports and in Samuel Pepys's diary. One notable case was on 9 October 1660, when a grand jury was held for several men who signed the death warrant of Charles I.

Hicks Hall remained in use until 1778. By that time the building had fallen into disrepair. Considered to be no longer suitable for its legal role, it was closed and demolished. Hicks Hall sessions were transferred to the new Middlesex Sessions House at Clerkenwell Green. When it closed in 1921, cases were moved to the Sessions House in Newington.

Geographical importance[edit]

Hicks Hall was the traditional starting point of the Great North Road and was used as the initial datum point for mileages on that road, long after the building had been demolished. Measurements were taken from the building's front, which was approximately in the middle of St John Street ("the High-street of Saint John"), at the point where St John's Lane branches off to the west.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Norman Webster (1974) The Great North Road. Bath, Adams and Dart. pages 15–16

Coordinates: 51°31′15″N 0°6′6″W / 51.52083°N 0.10167°W / 51.52083; -0.10167