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The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, commonly referred to as the Old Bailey after the street on which it stands, is a criminal
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accord ...
building in central London, one of several that house the Crown Court of
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is Eng ...
. The street outside follows the route of the ancient wall around the
City of London The City of London is a city, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and constitutes, alongside Canary Wharf, the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It constituted most of London fr ...
, which was part of the fortification's '' bailey'', hence the metonymic name. The Old Bailey has been housed in a succession of court buildings on the street since the sixteenth century, when it was attached to the medieval Newgate gaol. The current main building block was completed in 1902, designed by Edward William Mountford; its architecture is recognised and protected as a
Grade II* listed building In the United Kingdom, a listed building or listed structure is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, in Wales, and the Northern Ire ...
. An extension South Block was constructed in 1972, over the former site of Newgate gaol which was demolished in 1904. The Crown Court sitting in the Old Bailey hears major criminal cases from within
Greater London Greater may refer to: * Greatness, the state of being great *Greater than, in inequality * ''Greater'' (film), a 2016 American film * Greater (flamingo), the oldest flamingo on record * "Greater" (song), by MercyMe, 2014 * Greater Bank, an Austra ...
. In exceptional cases, trials may be referred to the Old Bailey from other parts of England and Wales. As with most courts in England and Wales, trials at the Old Bailey are open to the public; however, they are subject to stringent security procedures.


History

The court originated as the sessions house of the Lord Mayor and
Sheriffs of the City of London Two sheriffs are elected annually for the City of London by the Liverymen of the City livery companies. Today's sheriffs have only nominal duties, but the historical officeholders had important judicial responsibilities. They have attended the ju ...
and of
Middlesex Middlesex (; abbreviation: Middx) is a historic county in southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the ceremonial county of Greater London, with small sections in neighbour ...
. In addition to sessions court, the Old Bailey also held trials, similar to the traveling
Courts of Assize The courts of assize, or assizes (), were periodic courts held around England and Wales until 1972, when together with the quarter sessions they were abolished by the Courts Act 1971 and replaced by a single permanent Crown Court. The assizes ...
held in other parts of England and Wales. The original medieval court was first mentioned in 1585; it was next to the older
Newgate Prison Newgate Prison was a prison at the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey Street just inside the City of London, England, originally at the site of Newgate, a gate in the Roman London Wall. Built in the 12th century and demolished in 1904, ...
, and seems to have grown out of the endowment to improve the gaol and rooms for the sheriffs, made possible by a gift from Richard Whittington. It was destroyed in the
Great Fire of London The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through central London from Sunday 2 September to Thursday 6 September 1666, gutting the medieval City of London inside the old Roman city wall, while also extending past the ...
in 1666 and rebuilt in 1674, with the court open to the weather to prevent the spread of disease. In 1734, it was refronted, enclosing the court and reducing the influence of spectators: this led to outbreaks of
typhus Typhus, also known as typhus fever, is a group of infectious diseases that include epidemic typhus, scrub typhus, and murine typhus. Common symptoms include fever, headache, and a rash. Typically these begin one to two weeks after exposure. ...
, notably in 1750 when 60 people died, including the Lord Mayor and two judges. It was rebuilt again in 1774 and a second courtroom was added in 1824. Over 100,000 criminal trials were carried out at the Old Bailey between 1674 and 1834. In 1834, it was renamed as the Central Criminal Court and its jurisdiction extended beyond that of London and Middlesex to the whole of the English jurisdiction for trials of major cases. His Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service manages the courts and administers the trials but the building itself is owned by the City of London Corporation, which finances the building, the running of it, the staff and the maintenance out of their own resources. The court was envisaged as that where only criminals accused of crimes committed in the City and Middlesex were tried. However, in 1856, there was public revulsion at complaints sent to police against doctor William Palmer that he was a poisoner and murderer. This led to fears that he could not receive a fair trial in his native
Staffordshire Staffordshire (; postal abbreviation Staffs.) is a landlocked county in the West Midlands region of England. It borders Cheshire to the northwest, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwickshire to the southeast, the West Midlands C ...
. The
Central Criminal Court Act 1856 The Central Criminal Court Act 1856Short Title authorised by the Short Titles Act 1896 (19 & 20 Vict., c.16), originally known as the Trial of Offences Act 1856 and popularly known as Palmer's Act, was an Act of the Parliament of the United ...
was passed to enable his trial, and others with a public profile, to be held at the Old Bailey. The Old Bailey adjoined Newgate Prison until the jail's 1902 closure. Hangings were a public spectacle in the street outside until May 1868. The condemned would be led along Dead Man's Walk between the buildings, and many were buried in the walk itself. Large, rowdy crowds sometimes gathered and pelted the condemned with rotten fruit and vegetables and stones. After 28 people were crushed to death when a pie-seller's stall overturned, a secret tunnel was made between the prison and St Sepulchre's church opposite the crossroads, to allow the chaplain to minister to the condemned without having to force his way through crowds. The present building dates from 1902 and was officially opened by King Edward VII on 27 February 1907. It was designed by E. W. Mountford and co-occupies the site of the demolished prison. Above the main entrance is inscribed the admonition: "Defend the Children of the Poor & Punish the Wrongdoer". On the dome above the court stands the court's symbolic gilt bronze statue of
Lady Justice Lady Justice ( la, Iustitia) is an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems. Her attributes are scales, a sword and sometimes a blindfold. She often appears as a pair with Prudentia. Lady Justice originates from the ...
by sculptor F. W. Pomeroy (made 1905–1906). She holds a sword in her right hand and the scales of justice in her left. The statue is popularly supposed to show blind Justice, but the figure is not blindfolded: the courthouse brochures explain that this is because Lady Justice was originally not blindfolded, and because her "maidenly form" is supposed to guarantee her impartiality which renders the blindfold redundant. During
the Blitz The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and originated from the term , the German word meaning 'lightning war'. The Germa ...
of World War II, the Old Bailey was bombed and severely damaged, but reconstruction work restored most of it in the early 1950s. In 1952, the restored interior of the Grand or Great Hall of the Central Criminal Court was once again open. This hall (underneath the dome) is decorated with paintings commemorating the Blitz, as well as quasi-historical scenes of
St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in London and is the seat of the Bishop of London. The cathedral serves as the mother church of the Diocese of London. It is on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London and is a G ...
with nobles outside. Running around the entire hall are a series of axioms, some of biblical reference. They read: Between 1968 and 1972, a new South Block, designed by the architects Donald McMorran and George Whitby, was built to accommodate more modern courts. In 1973, the Belfast Brigade of the
Provisional IRA The Irish Republican Army (IRA; ), also known as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, and informally as the Provos, was an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate Irish re ...
exploded a car bomb in the street outside, killing one and injuring 200 people. A shard of glass is preserved as a reminder, embedded in the wall at the top of the main stairs. The hall (and its floor) was decorated with many busts and statues, chiefly of British monarchs, but also of legal figures, and those who achieved renown by campaigning for improvement in prison conditions from 1700 to 1900. This part of the building also housed the stenographers' offices until the stenographers were replaced by technology in March 2012.


Management

Until 2017, the court manager was known by the title of the ''Secondary of the City of London'', an ancient title of a City officer.


Judges

All judges sitting in the Old Bailey are addressed as " My Lord" or "My Lady" whether they are High Court, circuit judges or recorders. The Lord Mayor and aldermen of the City of London are entitled to sit on the judges' bench during a hearing but do not participate in hearings. Where a ceremonial tradition is followed, a judge, sitting sole, sits off-centre in case the Lord Mayor were to decide to come in, who would take the centre chair. The most senior ''permanent'' judge of the Central Criminal Court has the title of Recorder of London, and their deputy has the title of Common Serjeant of London. The position of "Recorder of London" is distinct from that of a recorder, which is a part-time judicial office, holders of which sit part-time as judges of the Crown Court or County Court. Many criminal law advocates with QC/ KC status and leading profiles sit as recorders across the London region. The recent Recorders of London have been: * 1975–1990 – Sir James Miskin * 1990–1998 – Sir Lawrence Verney * 1998–2004 – Michael Hyam * 2004–2013 – Peter Beaumont * 2013–2015 –
Brian Barker Brian (sometimes spelled Bryan in English) is a male given name of Irish and Breton origin, as well as a surname of Occitan origin. It is common in the English-speaking world. It is possible that the name is derived from an Old Celtic word ...
* 2015–2019 – Nicholas Hilliard * 2020–present – Mark Lucraft


Civic role

The court house originated as part of the City of London's borough judicial system, and it remains so. The Recorder and the Common Serjeant are City officers, and the Recorder is a member of the Common Council because he is also a member of the Court of Aldermen. The city's sheriffs and the Lord Mayor are justices there, but their jurisdiction is now nominal. The sheriffs are resident with the senior judges in the complex. In Court 1 are benches set aside for the committee of Bridge House Estates, the owner of the building.


In popular culture

The Old Bailey has been mentioned and featured in numerous fictional works including film, video games and literature. Notable examples include '' V for Vendetta'' and its
film adaptation A film adaptation is the transfer of a work or story, in whole or in part, to a feature film. Although often considered a type of derivative work, film adaptation has been conceptualized recently by academic scholars such as Robert Stam as a dia ...
, in which the
title character The title character in a narrative work is one who is named or referred to in the title of the work. In a performed work such as a play or film, the performer who plays the title character is said to have the title role of the piece. The title of ...
demolishes it to gain the public's attention, and '' Justice League'' and its director's cut, in which
Wonder Woman Wonder Woman is a superhero created by the American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston (pen name: Charles Moulton), and artist Harry G. Peter. Marston's wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, Elizabeth, and their life partner, Olive Byr ...
foils a terrorist bomb plot. In
Agatha Christie Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around fiction ...
's play, '' Witness for the Prosecution'', the murder trial of Leonard Vole is held at the Old Bailey. It is also a central location in '' The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures'' and its sequel '' The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve'', where many of the trials in the games' plot take place. ''
Rumpole of the Bailey ''Rumpole of the Bailey'' is a British television series created and written by the British writer and barrister John Mortimer. It starred Leo McKern as Horace Rumpole, a middle-aged London barrister who defended a broad variety of clients, of ...
'' is a British television series created and written by the British writer and barrister John Mortimer. Horace Rumpole, is an elderly London barrister who defends a broad variety of clients, often underdogs.


Gallery

File:Central Criminal Court of England and Wales (The Old Bailey) The Grand Hall.jpg, The Grand Hall File:Central Criminal Court of England and Wales (The Old Bailey) Ceiling.jpg, The Dome Ceiling File:Central Criminal Court of England and Wales (The Old Bailey) Court No 1 The Dock.jpg, Looking at the dock in Court No 1 File:Central Criminal Court of England and Wales (The Old Bailey) Court No 1.jpg, Looking from the dock in Court No 1


See also

* Bow Street Magistrates' Court * Courts of England and Wales * Horseferry Road Magistrates' Court *
Royal Courts of Justice The Royal Courts of Justice, commonly called the Law Courts, is a court building in Westminster which houses the High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales. The High Court also sits on circuit and in other major cities. Designed by G ...


References


External links


Court information
* HM Courts Service
current cases listed at this court

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey London 1674 to 1913
– Archive of case details
Central Criminal Court
from the City of London website
Old Bailey photographs at 100 years old (from BBC)


Duncan Campbell, ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gu ...
'', 27 February 2007
View from Google Maps


* ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b012stwb Voices from the Old Bailey – BBC Radio 4 dramatisations of 18th century cases {{Authority control Old Bailey, The Crown Court buildings Edwardian architecture in London Grade II* listed buildings in the City of London Grade II* listed government buildings Government buildings with domes Old Bailey, The 1907 establishments in England