old bailey

Photo credit: Secret London. 

Photo credit: Secret London. 

Old Bailey. Formally the Central Criminal Court. The Old Bailey,London EC4M 7EH.

The Old Bailey is the colloquial name for the Central Criminal Court. The name is taken from the street on which it stands, originally the line of the City of London's fortified boundary, and the site of Newgate Prison. 

The Crown Court sitting in the Old Bailey deals with major criminal cases from within Greater London, and sometimes from other parts of England and Wales. These include murder, rape, and robbery. As in other courts, the proceedings are freely open to the public, albeit with stringent security procedures. 

In the 19th century the Old Bailey was a courtroom adjacent to Newgate prison. Hangings were a public spectacle until 1868. The condemned woutl be led along Dead Man's Walk between the prison and court, and many were buried in the walk itself. Large riotous crowds would gather and throw rotten fruit and stones at the condemned. In 1807 28 people were crushed to death after a pie-seller's stall overturned. A secret tunnel was later created between the prison and St. Sepulchre's church opposite to allow the chaplain to minister to the condemned prisoner without having to force his way through the crowds. 

The present Old Bailey building was designed by Edward Mountford and was built in 1902. The old Newgate prison was demolished to provide the site. Above the main entrance is an inscription: 'Defend the Children of the Poor and Punish the Wrongdoer'. At the top of the dome is the famous bronze statue of Lady Justice, with the scales of justice in one hand and a sword in the other. It was created by the British sculptor Frederick Pomeroy

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