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The site of Hicks Hall at the southern end of St John Street. Although the building is lost, its site is marked by the island in the middle of the road, and the broadening of the building frontages to leave a thoroughfare to either side.

Hicks Hall (1611 – 1778) was a building in St John Street, Clerkenwell, London. It was the first purpose-built sessions house for Justices of the Peace of the county of Middlesex (including the City of Westminster), and became the main court of petty sessions and arraignment for more serious offences, including cases involving plots, attacks and minor transgressions against the state.


For many years prior to 1612 the Middlesex Justices had held their sessions at the Castle also known as Windmill Tavern on the east side of the Street, just north of Smithfield Bars (i.e. vestage of gate) and therefore at the nearest point in the county of Middlesex to the City of London.[1]

The new building, which was paid for by wealthy fabric merchant Sir Baptist Hicks (or Hickes), later created 1st Viscount Campden, opened in 1611 on land that had been granted to the magistrates of Middlesex by James I the previous year. The estimated cost of building alone was estimated at up to £900, in general commodities equivalent to £161,534 in 2015.

At the first session in the new building, it was resolved that the building would be named "Hicks-hall" in honour of its patron. For 167 years, Hicks Hall was used to hear cases in the county of Middlesex. It is mentioned in many contemporary reports and in Samuel Pepys's diary. One notable case was on 9 October 1660, when a grand jury was convened to try several men who signed the death warrant of Charles I.

Hicks Hall remained in use until 1778. By that time the building had fallen into disrepair so was closed and demolished. Hicks Hall sessions were transferred to the new Middlesex Sessions House at Clerkenwell Green. In a main room there an engraved Chimney Piece from the old Sessions House was kept, which was inscribed:

Sir Baptist Hickes of Kensington in the County of Middlesex Knight one of the justices of the peace of this county of Middlesex of his worthy disposition and at his own proper charge buylt this session house in the year of our Lord God 1612 and gave it to the justices of peace of this county and their successors for a sessions house for ever. 1618.[1]

When it closed in 1921, cases spanning an Inner London area on both sides of the Thames were moved to the Sessions House in Newington.

Geographical importance

Hicks Hall was the traditional starting point of the Great North Road, and continued to be used as the initial datum point for mileages on that road long after the building itself had been demolished. Measurements were taken from the building's front, which was approximately in the middle of St John Street ("the High-street of Saint John"), at the point where the much shorter St John's Lane branches off.[2]


  1. ^ a b John Cordy Jeaffreson (editor) (1892). "Sir Baptist Hicks". Middlesex county records: Volume 4: 1667-88. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Norman Webster (1974) The Great North Road. Bath, Adams and Dart. pages 15–16

Coordinates: 51°31′15″N 0°6′6″W / 51.52083°N 0.10167°W / 51.52083; -0.10167

6 Annotations

dirk  •  Link

Hickes's Hall

The only reference to Hickes's Hall I could find on the web is from a newspaper in 1726:

"16 July 1726
On Monday at the Sessions at Guild-hall, (which began there and at Hickes's-Hall that Day) one Joseph Cuttler was try'd and convicted of a Misdemeanor, for attempting to extort Money from a Shopkeeper in Fleetstreet, threatning, in case of refusal, to swear Sodomy against him. He was sentenced to pay a Fine of 10 Marks, to suffer half a Year's Imprisonment, and to stand in the Pillory in Fleetstreet, over-against Shooe-Lane End." (The London Journal)


Brian G McMullen  •  Link

Here is a notation for Hick's Hall from the following site:

Saint John's street, without West Smithfield Bars, L. Here is Hicks's Hall, where the Justices of the Peace hold their Sessions; and the Grand Jury finds Bills against Criminals to be tryed at Old Baily.

Brian G McMullen  •  Link

This may be a stretch but I found the following at:

Early American Secular Music and its European Sources, 1589-1839:
Source Data-E75.119

Title: Hick's Hall Has Broke Us All (t)

Number E75.119
Short Title Johnson CD-6, 1751

Just a wonderful title!

Brian G McMullen  •  Link

Last one:

From The Memoirs of Sir John Reresby

"February 27th. -- The bills against the three murderers of Mr. Thynne had been found against them as principals, and against the Count as accessory at the sessions at Hick's Hall, which had begun on the 2oth of February, and ended on the 28th ; all the rest of the persons apprehended or bound over for that offence being reserved as witnesses till the trial. On the 28th they were tried at the Old Bailey, where, after a trial that lasted from nine in the morning till five in the afternoon, and a very strict prosecution by the relations of Mr. Thynne, the three were brought in principals of the said murder, and received sentence of death accordingly. The Count was acquitted as not accessory by the same jury, it being per medietatem linguae, according to the privilege of strangers. I carried the King the news the first of this, who was not displeased to hear that it had passed in this manner. The party of the Duke of Monmouth, who all appeared to countenance the prosecution, were extremely concerned that the Count did escape.

Bill  •  Link

The Middlesex Sessions House in St. John Street, Clerkenwell, named after Sir Baptist Hicks, one of the justices, and afterwards Viscount Campden, at whose cost it was built in 1612. The Sessions House was removed to the present building on Clerkenwell Green in 1782.
---Wheatley (1896).

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


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