Wood for Westminster – a Tour Guide Girl History Short

Westminster Hall is the oldest portion of the Palace of Westminster, constructed in 1097. In 1393 a new roof was commissioned, using the hammer-beam technique. It’s pretty magnificent.

By 1913 a few of the oak beams needed to be replaced. Only problem is, mature oak trees are increasingly hard to find.

When the MP for Rye heard about the restoration work, he offered some help. His name was Sir George Couthorpe.

His ancestors had provided the original oak for Westminster Hall in the 1390’s from their Sussex estate. Sir George explained that after the oaks had been felled, his ancestors had planted new trees for when the Hall might need new wood. This meant that over 500 years later the Couthorpes had several oak trees of just the right maturity.

Over half a millennium after the roof was installed, it was restored with oak grown from the same estate as the original trees.

That’s how Westminster Hall has the most authentically restored roof it’s possible to get!


Filed under history shorts

2 responses to “Wood for Westminster – a Tour Guide Girl History Short

  1. That’s really amazing. I hope they immediately planted some new oak trees for the next round of renovations in the 2500s!

  2. fellfromfiction

    This is one of my favourite London facts of all time, thanks for the reminder!

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