Friday, 17 June 2011

Justice to Tea

In 1866 Parliament announced a competition for the design of a new central Supreme Court and 11 architects submitted their ideas. 7.5 acres of slums were compulsorily purchased; 450 dwellings, housing more than 4,000 people, were demolished and having chosen an architect, in 1873 construction of what we know as the Royal Courts of Justice began. With more than 3.5 miles of corridors and more than 1,000 rooms it took more than 8 years to complete. The Marketors who had a guided tour of the building on Thursday happily were not required to walk all 3.5 miles.
It is an architecturally marvellous place in which the Court of Appeal and High Court sit hearing varied and sometimes complex cases. It is to here, in a tradition dating back 800 years, that on the second Saturday of November each year the new Lord Mayor rides in his Golden coach to be sworn in before the Lord Chief Justice of England and to pledge his loyalty to the crown and to the duties of his office.

Both inside and outside there are remarkable architectural features and statues, none more remarkable than the mosaic floor of the main hall which measures 238 feet in length by 48 feet in width with every small piece of mosaic being laid individually, not in blocks. Not forgetting the clock hanging outside which if it ever breaks down may remain silent forever as it is reputed that its maker took the secret of its balance with him to the grave and no-one has ever managed to duplicate it.After a thoroughly fascinating tour the party crossed the road to the infinitely smaller premises of Twinings Tea where a room had been set aside for us to learn more about tea from an expert. A slide presentation and practical exploration of tea introduced us to the different types of tea which we were then encouraged to taste and to 'slurp' to gain the greatest flavour out of each tea. It was a fascinating and highly educative experience much enjoyed by all present and concluded with, yes, tea and cakes.

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