The Great Hall

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The Great Hall

Lower and darker when first built, two rows of oak pillars helped support the roof of this Norman hall. They divided the Hall into three aisles: a wide central one and two narrow side ones. Only one pillar is left today.Dendrochronology dates it to about 1180.

Candles fixed to the posts and walls helped supplement poor natural lighting. A charcoal fire burned below a roof opening controlled with ropes.

As seen today, the Hall is very much the work of Bishop Morley (1662 – 1684). He had:

  • the Hall shortened, building a wall to divide off the Stone Hall at the west end
  • the pillars removed
  • the height increased by raising the walls
  • a new ceiling constructed
  • fronting balustrades added to the Minstrels’ and Upper Galleries

Bishop Browne (1873 – 1890) added the fireplace inscription: “A DIEU FOY, AUX AMIS FOYER” (“To God my faith, to my friends my hearth”).

A contemporary copy (c. 1550) of a VeroneseChrist in the House of Simon the Pharisee, hangs above the fireplace. Stored in the cellars during World War II, the painting was re-hung in 1976.
Bishop Thorold (1891 – 1895) added the three stained glass windows. These depict the coats of arms of the nine bishops who were Lord Chancellor. The three in the middle window were also Cardinals. A red Cardinal’s hat sits above their shields.

The Minstrels’ Gallery

Before Morley’s alterations, this was completely open to the Great Hall. The stonework up to the floor of the gallery matches the stonework of the Norman outer wall. A Norman archway in the south wall and other architectural clues suggest there may have been an extension. Thought to have been a large chapel, no record has been found.

 

The Upper Gallery

The Upper Gallery runs along the top of the original Norman walls. Covered in for many years, removing part of the internal wall in 1976 opened up the Upper Gallery to the Great Hall.