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A legal institution, both literally and figuratively, the Old Bailey (as it is affectionately known) in the City's Holborn area has seen the trails and convictions of some of the most notorious criminals and characters in British and world history. The Old Bailey, its real name the Central Criminal Court, is one of a number of buildings housing the Crown Court and deals with major criminal cases mostly from London, but also sometimes from throughout the UK.
This present building stands upon the site of the previous and medieval Newgate Gaol (from 1585) on a road in line with the Roman fortified wall, parts of which can still be seen in various parts of the city today. Over the centuries, this building has been redesigned, re-fronted, and burnt down in the 1666 Fire of London. In the bombings of the Second World War, the Old Bailey was also severely damaged. It is the site where many prisoners were awarded the death penalty, and to this day its reputation creates a sense of fascination, intrigue, historical interest and even fear. The Old Bailey has played a large part in literature (remember Tale of Two Cities?)
The present building in its current form has been standing since 1907, and has had the statue of Lady Justice added, to denote justice and impartiality. The Old Bailey is also lavishly decorated throughout with sculptures, paintings and other adornments- many of which reflecting the history of the building itself and of the area.
The Old Bailey is unusual in that the public, to this day, is still allowed to sit in on some of the trials which take place- and many a spectator has seen the trials of famous gangsters, flamboyant Oscar Wilde and even the IRA bombers which caused havoc in the UK during the last part of the twentieth century.
, Holborn, EC4M 7EHView Larger Map