A ground plott of Westminster Hall, shewing the position and dimensions of the severall tables, seats, cupboards, galleries &c on the day of their Majesties coronation. 23 Apr. 1685.
Westminster Abbey is a gothic abbey church just to the west of the Palace of Westminster, London. It is a traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. A first church was founded at the site in the 7th century, at the time of Mellitus, a Bishop of London. Construction of the present church began in 1245, on the orders of King Henry III. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey nor a cathedral, but a Church's of England "Royal Peculiar"—a church responsible directly to the sovereign. Since the coronations in 1066 of both King Harold and William the Conqueror, every English and British monarch, with the exceptions of Edward V and Edward VIII, have been crowned in Westminster Abbey. There have been at least 16 royal weddings at the abbey since 1100.
Westminster Hall, erected in 1097 is the oldest existing part of the Palace of Westminster. When built, it was the largest hall in Europe. The roof was probably originally supported by pillars, giving three aisles. A new roof rebuilding had been begun by King Henry III in 1245 and took a century to build. The "the greatest creation of medieval timber architecture", allowed the original three aisles to be replaced with a single huge open space in 1393. Westminster Hall has the largest clearspan medieval roof in England, measuring 20.7 by 73.2 meters (68 by 240 ft). Oak timbers for the roof came from royal woods in Hampshire and from parks in Hertfordshire and from that of William Crozier of Stoke D'Abernon, who supplied over 600 oaks in Surrey, among other sources; they were assembled near Farnham, Surrey, 35 miles away. Accounts record the large number of wagons and barges which delivered the jointed timbers to Westminster for assembly. Westminster Hall has served numerous functions. It was primarily used for judicial purposes, housing three of the most important courts in the land: the Court of King's Bench, the Court of Common Pleas and the Court of Chancery. Westminster Hall has also served ceremonial functions. From the twelfth century to the nineteenth, coronation banquets honoring new monarchs were held here.