The Supreme Court and the Middlesex Guildhall - the real story

Last week the judges were sworn in at the UK's new Supreme Court. The Court is housed at the Middlesex Guildhall, a Grade II* listed building adapted to its new function at a cost of £59 million. The conversion of the building saw the loss of key historic interiors and the wrecking of unique fixtures and fittings, including some of the finest examples of decorative woodcarving of the period. Thanks to the Supreme Court publicity steamroller, little of this has been reported in the press.

The Middlesex Guildhall was built in 1906-13. The architect, James Gibson, collaborated on the project with sculptor H C Fehr to produce a late Gothic Revival masterpiece. The principal room and three courts were elaborately decorated and fitted out with delicately carved woodwork. Many of these interiors, once applauded for their quality and completeness, have now been drastically altered, and the fittings stripped out, as part of the Supreme Court scheme.

In 2006 SAVE launched a campaign opposing the damaging proposals for the conversion of the building, publishing the report 'The Guildhall Testimonial' (see link below). When Westminster Council granted consent for the new court, SAVE took the case to judicial review on the basis that the decision was contrary to national and local policy on the treatment of listed buildings. Despite advice and assistance from the brilliant David Cooper and QC Joe Harper, the challenge was unsuccessful. The story was reported in our November 2006 and July 2007 Newsletters (see attached PDFs). The SAVE report can also be viewed as a PDF by following the link below.

Several paper copies are still available to purchase direct from the office priced at £5 + £2.50 p&p.

A Stern Judgement on their Lordships' refurbishers Read Marcus Binney's article in The Times, January 15 2010.

Lord Falconer's supreme blunder Read Marcus Binney's article in The Times, June 22 2006.

Documents (click to read/download)