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Dean's Yard, London

#149 of 262 in Historic Sites in London
Religious Site · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
Dean's Yard, Westminster, comprises most of the remaining precincts of the historically greater scope of the monastery or abbey of Westminster, not occupied by its buildings. It is known to members of Westminster School as Green (referred to without an article). It is a large gated quadrangle, closed to public traffic, chiefly a green upon which the pupils have the long-use acquired exclusive rights to sit, read and to play games such as football (they have some claim to have invented the modern game). For some centuries until a point in the early seventeenth century it was a third of its present size, since to the south stood the Queen's Scholars' dormitory, which was in monastic times the granary. Its stones support Church House.

Adjoining buildingsEast: school buildings

South: Church House, a conference centre and offices of the Church of England

West: school buildings and Westminster Abbey Choir School

North: flanking archway to the Great Sanctuary: Abbey offices and part of the Deanery.Historically the Abbey was one of the last ecclesiastical sanctuaries to surrender such ancient rights, ostensibly free refuges of asylum, frequently among residents were politically disfavoured and dangerous inhabitants. They were held in check by the Abbot's own penal jurisdiction, and by the knowledge that the Abbot could instantly expel them to their fate at the hands of the Common Law: the Abbey Gatehouse was split into two prisons, one of the Abbot's and one for the constables outside. Westminster School displays a royal pardon from Charles II of England and Scotland to the King's Scholars whose action killed a bailiff harassing the mistress of one of them in Dean's Yard, accused by his fellow authorities of murder. Whether he was excused for reacting to the breach of some vestigial sanctuary, in stark contrast to the English Commonwealth where such rights were undeniably defunct, or for a moderate degree of violence that may have been used, such as might have resulted in a manslaughter charge were the victim not a bailiff is unrecorded. The Abbey's Sanctuary extended beyond, as far as the north side of Parliament Square, where a short approach, Thieving Lane through which thieves were taken to the prison (see Richard II's gatehouse, Old Palace Yard) without entering sanctuary and claiming its immunity, but in the tenements of which prostitution took hold. HM Treasury is built upon its site, which mainly amid exceptional times or announcements of high capital taxation or departmental cuts, lends itself to accusations thieving there continues, but lawfully.

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19 reviews
  • This is both a lovely building and also a lovely green space behind Westminster Abbey. Very historic building and the you go through the arch to the Dean's yard  more »
  • The dean's court has 2 areas. The area located in front of the building. That is free and you can go anything. No sure if you can enter the building. The option 2 is the yard. To have access you have....  more »
  • Nice Yard Settings.

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