Dean's Yard

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Coordinates: 51°29′57″N 0°7′45″W / 51.49917°N 0.12917°W / 51.49917; -0.12917

Pupils relax and play football after school on Green.

Dean's Yard, Westminster, comprises most of the remaining precincts of the former monastery of Westminster, not occupied by the Abbey buildings. It is known to members of Westminster School as Green, and referred to without an article. It is a large gated quadrangle, closed to public traffic, surrounding a green upon which Westminster School pupils have legal rights to play football (they have some claim to have invented the modern game). Until the seventeenth century the Green was a third of its present size, since to the south stood the Queen's Scholars' dormitory, which was in monastic times the granary: its stones still support Church House. The East side consists of buildings occupied by Westminster School; the South by Church House, the headquarters of the Church of England; the West by several School buildings and Westminster Abbey Choir School; and the North by the archway to the Great Sanctuary, Abbey offices and part of the Deanery.

Historically the Abbey was one of the last ecclesiastical sanctuaries to surrender its ancient rights, with the result that the precincts were largely occupied by most undesirable and dangerous inhabitants. They were held in check by the Abbot's own penal jurisdiction, and by the knowledge that the Abbot could instantly expel them to their fate at the hands of the Common Law: the Abbey Gatehouse was split into two prisons, one of the Abbot's and one for the constables outside. Westminster School displays a royal pardon of Charles II for the King's Scholars who murdered a bailiff harassing the mistress of one of the scholars in Dean's Yard, allegedly in outrage at the breach of traditional sanctuary although it had been legally abolished. The Abbey's Sanctuary extended beyond Dean's Yard, as far as the north side of Parliament Square, where Thieving Lane was named for the local profession. It is not often remarked that HM Treasury is built upon the site of that lane.