In November 1882 the Royal Courts of Justice moved house, exchanging premises built by Sir John Soane along the flank of Westminster Hall (Figs 1, 2 and 3) for George Edmund Street’s Gothic masterpiece in the Strand. The new building, some sixteen years in the making, solved one problem but left another in its wake. Back in Parliament Square were Soane’s Courts, redundant and, worse, covering over a large part of Westminster Hall. Constructed in the late eleventh century, the massive Hall had been transformed three centuries later. Outside are six splendid flying buttresses (Soane had incorporated them into his cross walls) built to receive the thrust generated by Hugh Herland’s peerless hammerbeam roof, a wonder of high medieval carpentry (Fig. 4). Here was an unmissable chance to raise the profile of the ancient masterpiece, which was hemmed in by Georgian brick and masonry, and overshadowed by the modern medieval pomp of Pugin and Barry’s New Palaces of Westminster. The solution seemed simple: demolish Soane’s ranges and tidy up what was left. It was more like housekeeping than architecture and what was more it would not cost much. As for Soane’s ranges (and Vardy’s to the south), they were seen to be completely without merit.