St Stephen's Hall

St Stephen's Hall stands on the site of the royal Chapel of St Stephen's, where the House of Commons sat until the Chapel was destroyed by the fire of 1834.

The hall closely matches the dimensions of the old Chapel, being 29 metres (95 feet) long and 9 metres (30 feet) wide. Brass studs in the floor mark the former position of the Speaker's Chair and the Table of the House, and two brass tablets in the wall at the opposite end mark the position of the screen which separated the lobby from the Chamber.

St Stephen's Hall was in fact used by the House of Commons on the first day of each session from 1945 to 1950, during the rebuilding of the bombed Commons Chamber. In 1960, the whole Hall was renovated and the war damage repaired.

Hall decorations

Statues of famous parliamentarians face one another on either side of the Hall; these include John Hampden, Robert Walpole, William Pitt, Charles James Fox. On either side of the doorways are statues of early Kings and Queens of England.

At the east and west ends of the Hall are two large mosaic panels by R. Anning Bell relating to the founding of the earliest Chapel by King Stephen and its rebuilding by Edward III. The mosaic at the west end, unveiled in 1926, portrays Edward III approving the plans for the Chapel and handing them back to his master mason, Michael of Canterbury, with representatives of medieval craftsmen standing beside him. The panel at the east end depicts St Stephen holding a stone, in allusion to his martyrdom, with King Stephen and Edward the Confessor at his sides, and was unveiled a year earlier.

The paintings on the walls depict various important events in British history, while the ten stained-glass windows, five on either side, depict the arms of various parliamentary cities and boroughs; these were damaged in air raids during the Second Word War and since restored.

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Did you know?

A suffragette chained herself to one of the statues in the Hall in 1909?