Minor British Institutions: The hall


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The Independent Online

A minor institution with its best days behind it. This was once a hubbub of a place, filled by a long table groaning under the lord's fare, with the unworthy sat below the salt and great dogs slumbering before the fire in between gnawing the large bones hurled to them by their indulgent master, while minstrels plainted and jesters frolicked.

Great homes took their name from the hall, but now they're mostly golf clubs, drying-out clinics or apartments. Entertaining and arguing saw another split, to Westminster, Albert and many a village.

Left is that poor thing behind most of our front doors, mostly long and thin, a space existing only to allow other rooms to open off it and stairs to climb from it. No phone in the hall now; no servants to request you to wait in it; not enough room for more than one person anyway, along with the unopened envelopes and the odd coat and the wellies. Hall, you need love.