The Info List - Royal Courts Of Justice

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The ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE, commonly called the LAW COURTS, is a court building in London
which houses both the High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales
England and Wales
. Designed by George Edmund Street
George Edmund Street
, who died before it was completed, it is a large grey stone edifice in the Victorian Gothic
Victorian Gothic
style built in the 1870s and opened by Queen Victoria in 1882. It is one of the largest courts in Europe
. It is located on the Strand within the City of Westminster
City of Westminster
, near the border with the City of London
(Temple Bar ). It is surrounded by the four Inns of Court , King\'s College London
and the London
School of Economics . The nearest London
Underground stations are Chancery Lane
Chancery Lane
and Temple .

The courts within the building are open to the public, although there may be some restrictions depending upon the nature of the cases being heard. Those in court who do not have legal representation may receive some assistance within the building. There is a citizens' advice bureau based within the Main Hall which provides free, confidential and impartial advice by appointment to anyone who is a litigant in person in the courts. There is also a Personal Support Unit where litigants in person can receive emotional support and practical information about court proceedings.

The Central Criminal Court , widely known as the Old Bailey
Old Bailey
after the road on which it is located, is situated about half a mile to the east of the Royal Courts of Justice, though it is a Crown Court
Crown Court
with no direct connection with the Royal Courts of Justice.


* 1 History and architecture * 2 Extensions to the building * 3 See also * 4 Notes * 5 References * 6 Bibliography * 7 External links


The Royal Courts of Justice
Royal Courts of Justice
building on the Strand in central London

The search for a design for the Law Courts was by way of a competition, a then-common approach to selecting a design and an architect. The competition ran from 1866–7 and the twelve architects competing for the contract each submitted designs for the site. The Great Hall in 1882

In 1868 it was finally decided that George Edmund Street
George Edmund Street
was the winner. Building was started in 1873 by Messrs Bull "> The decorated floor of the Great Hall

There was a serious strike of masons at an early stage which threatened to extend to the other trades and caused a temporary stoppage of the works. In consequence, foreign workmen were brought in – mostly Germans. This aroused bitter hostility on the part of the men on strike, and the newcomers had to be housed and fed within the building. However, these disputes were eventually settled and the building took eight years to complete; it was officially opened by Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria
on 4 December 1882. Street died before the building was opened, overcome by the work. Much of the preparatory legal work was completed by Edwin Wilkins Field
Edwin Wilkins Field
including promotion of the Courts of Justice Building Act of 1865 and the Courts of Justice Concentration (Site) Act of 1865. A statue of Field stands in the building.

Parliament paid £1,453,000 for the 6-acre (24,000 m2) site upon which 450 houses had to be demolished. The building was paid for by cash accumulated in court from the estates of the intestate to the sum of £700,000. Oak work and fittings in the court cost a further £70,000 and with decoration and furnishing the total cost for the building came to under £1 million.

The dimensions of the building (in round figures) are: 470 feet (140 m) from east to west; 460 feet (140 m) from north to south; 245 feet (75 m) from the Strand level to the tip of the fleche.

Entering through the main gates on the Strand, one passes under two elaborately carved porches fitted with iron gates. The carving over the outer porch consists of heads of the most eminent judges and lawyers. Over the highest point of the upper arch is a figure of Jesus; to the left and right at a lower level are figures of Solomon and Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
; that of Moses
is at the northern front of the building. Also at the northern front, over the Judges entrance are a stone cat and dog representing fighting litigants in court.

On either side are gateways leading to different courts and to jury and witness rooms from which separate staircases are provided for them to reach their boxes in court. During the 1960s, jury rooms in the basement area were converted to courtrooms. At either end of the hall are handsome marble galleries from which the entire Main Hall can be viewed.

The walls and ceilings (of the older, original courts) are panelled in oak which in many cases is elaborately carved. In Court 4, the Lord Chief Justice 's court, there is an elaborately carved wooden royal coat of arms , which had been salvaged from the fire that engulfed and destroyed the original Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster
. Each court has an interior unique to itself; they were each designed by different architects.The grand hall is magnificent in architectural style and huge in size.

There are, in addition to the waiting rooms, several arbitration and consultation chambers together with robing rooms for members of the bar and solicitor advocates .


The main entrance

The first extension was the West Green building for which plans were drawn in 1910; the space was for extra divorce courts. They were the first to have modern air conditioning and tape recording in their original design.

The next new building was the Queen's Building, opened in 1968, providing a further 12 courts. This building also contains cells in the basement. It was intended that these courts could be used for criminal matters, however as the jury boxes can hold only 10 people they are not suitable for such a use and are now primarily used for family proceedings.

With an ever-increasing workload the 11-storey Thomas More
Thomas More
Building was built to house the Bankruptcy and Companies Courts and more offices. A grand view can be had from the top looking over to St Paul\'s Cathedral and the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey) in the City of London.

Finally, it was necessary to build an additional 12 courts for the Chancery Division
Chancery Division
named the Thomas More
Thomas More
Courts, which opened in January 1990. The Thomas More
Thomas More
Building is now used by the County Court at Central London, which is not part of the High Court. All this has meant there is little room left for further extension on the site should it be necessary in the future. However, an extensive refurbishment of the east block took place during 1994–95 which provided 14 extra courts for the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal and two extra large courts which are unassigned and will be used for cases where there are several parties involved or there are an unusually large number of documents and books.

It should also be remembered that there are further courts at the Rolls Building , which come under the wing of the Law Courts and are within short walking distance.

Anyone is allowed to watch the trials which are taking place free of charge, apart from private family cases such as adoption proceedings.


* Courts of England and Wales
England and Wales


* ^ A B "Royal Courts Of Justice – latest news, breaking stories and comment". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-01-08. * ^ A B Harper 1983 , p. 96. * ^ \'Nosing around the Royal Courts of Justice\', Chambers Student Guide 2011 * ^ " Royal Courts of Justice
Royal Courts of Justice
visitors guide". HM Courts Service . Retrieved 15 December 2008.


* Harper, Roger H. (1983). Victorian Architectural Competitions: An Index to British and Irish Architectural Competitions in The Builder, 1843–1900. Mansell Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7201-1685-6 .


* Brownlee, D. (1984). The Law Courts: The Architecture of George Edmund Street. MIT Press.