Lonely Planet review
Just as fact is often better than fiction, taking in a trial in what's nicknamed Old Bailey leaves watching a TV courtroom drama for dust. Even if you end up sitting in on a fairly run-of-the-mill trial, simply being in the court where such people as the Kray brothers and Oscar Wilde (in an earlier building on this site) once appeared is memorable.
The entrance is on Old Bailey St opposite Limeburner Lane and the daily register of cases is outside to the right of the doorway. Choose from 18 courts, of which the oldest – courts one to four – usually have the most interesting cases. As cameras, video equipment, mobile phones, large bags and food and drink are all forbidden inside, and there are no cloakrooms or lockers, it’s important not to take these with you. Take a cardigan or something to cushion the hard seats though, and if you’re interested in a high-profile trial, get there early.
The Central Criminal Court gets its nickname from the street on which it stands: baillie was Norman French for ‘enclosed courtyard’. The current building opened in 1907 on the combined site of a previous Old Bailey and Newgate Prison. Intriguingly the figure of justice holding a sword and scales in her hands above the building’s copper dome is not blindfolded (against undue influence, as is traditionally the case).