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Court Hall

Interior of The Court Hall, built 1395/7, in which the Bishop’s Stewards held twice yearly ‘courts leet’.

Financial control of the estate was exercised by the manorial court (or ‘court leet‘) which sat twice a year in The Court Hall; the bishop’s steward presided. The manor court ruled on the inheritance of land, granting of leases, regulation of ploughing and control of common grazing, and also heard civil cases regarding obstructed paths, encroachment on other men’s land, and the like.

There are no traces of the Saxon hall in which the bishops’ stewards held their courts; in 1366, following the Black Death, William of Wykeham found money to replace those of his palaces which had fallen into disrepair and created ‘houses which were sufficiently solid to stand the test of time, in a different, less ornate style’. Between 1395 and 1397, the previous hall, chapel and accommodation of East Meon’s Court House were largely replaced by new buildings supervised by master mason, William Wynford. As Edward Roberts has written: ‘Wykeham’s creation at East Meon is remarkably plain with beams that are simply chamfered without elaboratemouldings. Even the monumental fireplace in the solar is plain despite the creation of a manor house where a luxurious but more intimate lifestyle could be enjoyed’

Court House from east

Eastern aspect of The Hall