Westminster Hall is the oldest building on England's Parliamentary estate. In and around the Hall, grew up the major institutions of the British state: Parliament, the law courts and various government offices. But it's history is richer than just a gathering place for Britain's political elites. For instance, the Hall was used as an early modern shopping center, and as a drilling station for troops during 1859-1861 as Britons awaited invasion from the French of Napolean III. In 1833, Charles Dickens, having for the first time seen one of his stories in print, walked around Westminster Hall for half an hour with his eyes "dimmed with joy".
And as he looked up, he would have been gazing at the largest medieval timber roof in northern Europe.