Middlesex Sessions House

The former Middlesex Sessions House or the Old Sessions House is a large building on Clerkenwell Green in the London Borough of Islington in London, England, built in 1780 as the seat of the Middlesex Quarter Sessions. It is a Grade II* listed building.[1]

Middlesex Sessions House
Middlesex Sessions House.jpg
Middlesex Sessions House
LocationLondon
Coordinates51°31′21″N 0°06′22″W / 51.5226°N 0.1060°W / 51.5226; -0.1060Coordinates: 51°31′21″N 0°06′22″W / 51.5226°N 0.1060°W / 51.5226; -0.1060
Built1782
ArchitectThomas Rogers
Architectural style(s)Classical style
Listed Building – Grade II*
Official nameClerkenwell Conference Centre
Designated29 December 1950
Reference no.1298072
Middlesex Sessions House is located in London Borough of Islington
Middlesex Sessions House
Location of Middlesex Sessions House in London Borough of Islington

HistoryEdit

 
Session House, Clerkenwell 1810 engraved plate

The building was commissioned to replace Hicks Hall as the home of the Middlesex Quarter Sessions: Hicks Hall had opened in 1612 and had stepped into many of the lesser functions of the Old Bailey before being demolished in 1782.[2]

The Sessions House was designed by Thomas Rogers in the classical style and completed in 1782.[1][2] It served as the main judicial and administrative centre of Middlesex until county councils were created for Middlesex and London in 1889. At that point the Middlesex county leaders had no further use for the Sessions House because it was physically in the County of London rather than in Middlesex. Administrative matters relating to the county of Middlesex were immediately transferred to the Guildhall in Parliament Square. London County Council took over management of the Sessions House and continued to use it temporarily for magistrates' courts in its area. However, all remaining judicial business was transferred to the Sessions House in Newington Causeway in 1921.[3]

From 1931 to 1973 the former Middlesex Sessions House served as the headquarters of Avery Weighing Machines, manufacturers of weighing-machines and scales.[4] After that company's departure, the building fell into further disrepair until, in 1978, it was acquired and restored by a masonic trust and the following year opened as the London Masonic Centre, incorporating conference and social facilities.[4][5]

In 2013 it was reported that the proprietors of Home House, a private members' club in London's West End, were in negotiations to acquire the building for use as a Clerkenwell Club.[6] However, in 2014, the building was actually acquired by Oliver and Ted Grebelius of Sätila Studios, who converted it into a restaurant and bar.[7][8]

ArchitectureEdit

The Sessions House is substantially larger than Hicks Hall and was built in the classical style with four huge Ionic order columns supporting a pediment. In contrast with the modest sessions houses of earlier days, the new Middlesex Sessions House, designed by Thomas Rogers, was built with imperial grandeur in its proportions and decoration. It was enlarged, and remodelled on all but the main front by Frederick Hyde Pownall in 1860.[1][9] Above the central window was a relief of the head of King George III carved by John Charles Felix Rossi and Giovanni Battista Locatelli.[10]

The dome which covers its entrance hall and staircase is a copy of that of the Pantheon in Rome.[11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Historic England. "Clerkenwell Conference Centre (1298072)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b Temple, Philip (2008). "'Clerkenwell Green', in Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell". London: British History Online. pp. 86–114. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Bust: Old Middlesex Sessions House". London Remembers. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  4. ^ a b Temple 2008.
  5. ^ The Old Sessions House - History Archived 9 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Neville, Simon (27 September 2013). "Home House to woo London's tech staff with Clerkenwell club". The Independent. London. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  7. ^ "London's Old Sessions House to become a bar and restaurant". The Spaces. 19 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Neighbours back plans for restaurant with 'Victorian/colonial vibe' at Clerkenwell's Old Sessions House". Islington Gazette. 14 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Middlesex Sessions House". Prison History. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Middlesex Sessions House". London Remembers. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Clerkenwell Sessions House". Spitalfields Life. Retrieved 17 October 2020.