Westminster Central Hall

Westminster Central Hall, Westminster Methodist Hall or Methodist Central Hall Westminster is a building in London, England. It is situated on Victoria Street, just off Parliament Square, next to the Elizabeth II Conference Centre and facing Westminster Abbey.

It is a multi-purpose building – a Methodist church, a conference and exhibition centre, an art gallery, an office building, and a tourist attraction. The Great Hall seats up to 2352 people.

Central Hall was designed by Edwin Alfred Rickards later of the firm Lanchester and Rickards. Although outwardly clad in a renaissance French style, it is an early example of the use of a reinforced concrete frame for a building in Britain (in some ways similar to the “Kahn system” developed by Julius Kahn in Michigan, USA, in the 1910s).

The original 1904 design included two small towers on the main (east) facade facing Westminster Abbey. These were never built, supposedly because of outcry that they would reduce the dominance of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s west towers at Westminster Abbey in views from St. James’s Park.

The interior was similarly planned on a Piranesian scale, although the final execution was rather more economical.

The domed ceiling of the Great Hall is reputed to be the second largest of its type in the world. The vast scale of the self-supporting ferro-concrete structure reflects the original intention that Central Hall was intended to be ‘an open air meeting place with a roof on’.

The angels in the exterior spandrels were designed by Henry Poole RA.

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