London Sights


The Old Bailey

The Old Bailey Review

England and Wales don't allow cameras in courtrooms, so the only way to see a trial in action is to show up. The most high-profile ones usually happen here, at any of the 16 public courtrooms of the Central Criminal Court (universally known as "The Old Bailey"—a reference to the fact that it sits atop a section of the old London wall, or "bailey" in Medieval English). Oscar Wilde stood trial here for "gross indecency" (homosexuality) in 1895, but far darker souls than his have passed through these doors, including the nation's most notorious murderers, fraudsters, gangsters, and traitors. The day's proceedings are posted outside; there are security restrictions and children under 14 are not allowed. The Old Bailey was originally part of Newgate Prison, England's most feared gaol (jail) after the Tower, in use from the 12th century all the way to 1902. The present building dates from 1907. Note the 12-foot gilded statue of Justice perched on top; she's not, as is commonly thought, wearing a blindfold—her female form was thought by the Edwardians to imply virtue enough.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Newgate St., The City, London, EC4M 7EH | Map It
  • Phone: 020/7248–3277
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Public Galleries Mon.–Fri., 10–1, 2–5 (approximately). Line forms at Newgate St. entrance or in Warwick St. Passage; closed Monday holidays and day after.
  • Website:
  • Subway: St. Paul's
  • Location: The City
Updated: 02-27-2014

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