No.948: Shoreditch High Street, E1
Shoreditch High Street, London, E1. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
Curiosities of London Exhibiting the Most Rare and Remarkable Objects of Interest in the Metropolis; with Nearly Sixty Years Personal Recollections – John Timbs, 1867:
A record in St. Michan’sChurch, verified by Hanmer’s Chronicle, in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, states that the roof over Westminster Hall was constructed with timber procured from the site of this church; and clumps of trees have been found during recent excavations. The record states: “The faire greene or commune, now called Ostomontowne-greene, was all wood, and hee that diggeth at this day to any depth shall finde the grounde full of great rootes. From thence, anno 1098, King William Rufus, by license of Murchard, had that frame which made up the roofes of Westminster Hall, where no English spider webbeth or breedeth to this day. “- Proc. Royal Institute Irish Architects. Loudon, however, states the roof to be of British oak, quercus sessiflora, which is so deficient in grain as not to be distinguishable, at first sight, from chestnut.
[The construction of Westminster Hall commenced in 1097 and finished two years later. It survives in almost its original form. One of the mysteries of the building concerns the roof mentioned in the text above. Carpenters were not able to create roofs much wider than the timber they had available until the 13th or 14th century, in other words the roof timbers would have been supported on rows of columns prior to this time. However, recent archaeological explorations in the Hall have found no evidence of such columns and it is now thought that the immense roof was self-supporting from its construction in 1098. R.D.]