The Chelsea Society was privileged to make a private visit to the Central Criminal Court of England & Wales on 20th March 2019, as guests of the Hon. Elizabeth Green, one of the two Sheriffs of London
The Court – commonly known as the Old Bailey stands on the site of the medieval Newgate Gaol, which existed since the twelfth century as a place of imprisonment and execution, where crowds up to 20,000-strong gathered to watch public executions.
Today, the Crown Court sitting at the Central Criminal Court deals with major criminal cases in Greater London, and in exceptional cases, from other parts of England and Wales.
All judges sitting at the Old Bailey are addressed as “My Lord” or “My Lady” , whether they are High Court Judges, Circuit Judges or Recorders. During the tour we will see the Grand Hall decorated with busts and statues chiefly of British monarchs, but also of legal figures.
We visited the most famous Court Room in the world, the iconic Court 1, and heard about the many high profile trials that have taken place there, including William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw), Myra Hindley, the Kray Twins, the Yorkshire Ripper, and Jeremy Thorpe who arrived in Court carrying a cushion because of the unforgiving nature of the seats in the dock.
Many members of the royal family have visited the Old Bailey in the past, and The Queen herself might have been a witness in the trial there of Princess Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell, who was acquitted of theft in 2002.