|Central Criminal Court of England and Wales|
The Old Bailey in 2004
|Jurisdiction||England and Wales|
|Recorder of London|
|Since||6 January 2015|
The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales (commonly called the Old Bailey, after the street on which it stands) is a court in London and one of a number of buildings housing the Crown Court. The street, outside, traces the City of London's ancient fortified wall (and bailey ), which runs from Ludgate Hill to the junction of Newgate Street and Holborn Viaduct. The Old Bailey has been housed in a succession of court houses on the street since the sixteenth century. The court's present architecturally recognised and protected main block dates from 1902, designed by Edward William Mountford. Part of the building stands on the site of the medieval Newgate gaol.
The Crown Court sitting at the Central Criminal Court deals with major criminal cases from within Greater London and in exceptional cases, from other parts of England and Wales. Trials at the Old Bailey, as at other courts, are open to the public; however, they are subject to stringent security procedures.
The court originated as the sessions house of the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs of the City of London and of Middlesex. The original medieval court was first mentioned in 1585; it was next to the older Newgate Prison, and seems to have grown out of the endowment to improve the gaol and rooms for the sheriffs, made possible by a gift from Richard Whittington. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and rebuilt in 1674, with the court open to the weather to prevent the spread of disease.
In 1734, it was refronted, enclosing the court and reducing the influence of spectators: this led to outbreaks of typhus, notably in 1750 when 60 people died, including the Lord Mayor and two judges. It was rebuilt again in 1774 and a second courtroom was added in 1824. Over 100,000 criminal trials were carried out at the Old Bailey between 1674 and 1834.
In 1834, it was renamed as the Central Criminal Court and its jurisdiction extended beyond that of London and Middlesex to the whole of the English jurisdiction for trials of major cases. Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service manages the courts and administers the trials but the building itself is owned by the City of London Corporation, which finances the building, the running of it, the staff and the maintenance out of their own resources.
The court was envisaged as that where only criminals accused of crimes committed in the City and Middlesex were tried. However, in 1856, there was public revulsion at complaints sent to police against doctor William Palmer that he was a poisoner and murderer. This led to fears that he could not receive a fair trial in his native Staffordshire. The Central Criminal Court Act 1856 was passed to enable his trial, and others with a public profile, to be held at the Old Bailey.
The Old Bailey adjoined Newgate Prison until the jail's 1902 closure. Hangings were a public spectacle in the street outside until May 1868. The condemned would be led along Dead Man's Walk between the buildings, and many were buried in the walk itself. Large, rowdy crowds sometimes gathered and pelted the condemned with rotten fruit and vegetables and stones.After 28 people were crushed to death when a pie-seller's stall overturned, a secret tunnel was made between the prison and St Sepulchre's church opposite the crossroads, to allow the chaplain to minister to the condemned without having to force his way through crowds.
The present building dates from 1902 and was officially opened by King Edward VII on 27 February 1907. It was designed by E. W. Mountford and co-occupies the site of the demolished prison. Above the main entrance is inscribed the admonition: "Defend the Children of the Poor & Punish the Wrongdoer".
On the dome above the court stands the court's symbolic gilt bronze statue of Lady Justice by sculptor F. W. Pomeroy (made 1905–1906).She holds a sword in her right hand and the scales of justice in her left. The statue is popularly supposed to show blind Justice, but the figure is not blindfolded: the courthouse brochures explain that this is because Lady Justice was originally not blindfolded, and because her "maidenly form" is supposed to guarantee her impartiality which renders the blindfold redundant.
During the Blitz of World War II, the Old Bailey was bombed and severely damaged, but reconstruction work restored most of it in the early 1950s. In 1952, the restored interior of the Grand or Great Hall of the Central Criminal Court was once again open. This hall (underneath the dome) is decorated with paintings commemorating the Blitz, as well as quasi-historical scenes of St Paul's Cathedral with nobles outside. Running around the entire hall are a series of axioms, some of biblical reference. They read:
"The law of the wise is a fountain of life"
"The welfare of the people is supreme"
"Right lives by law and law subsists by power"
"Poise the cause in justice's equal scales"
"Moses gave unto the people the laws of God"
"London shall have all its ancient rights"
This hall (and its floor) is also decorated with many busts and statues, chiefly of British monarchs, but also of legal figures, and those who achieved renown by campaigning for improvement in prison conditions from 1700 to 1900. This part of the building also houses the stenographers' offices.
The lower level also hosts a minor exhibition on the history of the Old Bailey and Newgate featuring historical prison artefacts.
In 1973, the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional IRA exploded a car bomb in the street outside, killing one and injuring 200 people. A shard of glass is preserved as a reminder, embedded in the wall at the top of the main stairs.
Between 1968 and 1972, a new South Block, designed by the architects Donald McMorran and George Whitby, was built to accommodate more modern courts; 18 in total are used. Court 19 is used variously as a press overflow facility, as a registration room for first-day jurors or as a holding area for serving jurors.
The original ceremonial gate to the 1907 part of the building in Warwick Square, on the western side of the complex, is the "Lord Mayor's Entrance" and only used by the Lord Mayor and visiting royalty. The general entrance to the building is a few yards down the road in the South Block and is often featured as a backdrop in television news reports. A controlled rear entrance, not open to the public, gives discreet access.
A remnant of the city wall is preserved in the basement beneath the cells.
Until 2017 the court manager was known by the title of the Secondary of the City of London, an ancient title of a City officer.Today the more prosaic 'Head of Operations' is used.
All judges sitting in the Old Bailey are addressed as "My Lord" or "My Lady" whether they are High Court, circuit judges or recorders. The Lord Mayor and aldermen of the City of London are entitled to sit on the judges' bench during a hearing but do not participate in hearings. Where a ceremonial tradition is followed a judge, sitting sole, sits off-centre in case the Lord Mayor were to decide to come in, who would take the centre chair.
The most senior permanent judge of the Central Criminal Court has the title of Recorder of London, and their deputy has the title of Common Serjeant of London. The position of "Recorder of London" is distinct from that of a recorder, which is a part-time judicial office, holders of which sit part-time as judges of the Crown or county courts. Many criminal law advocates with QC/KC status and leading profiles sit as recorders across the London region. The recent Recorders of London were and incumbent is:
The court house originated as part of the City of London's borough judicial system, and it remains so. The Recorder and the Common Serjeant are City officers, and the Recorder is a member of the Common Council because he is also a member of the Court of Aldermen. The City's sheriffs and the Lord Mayor are justices there, but their jurisdiction is now nominal. The sheriffs are resident with the senior judges in the complex. In Court 1 are benches set aside for the committee of Bridge House Estates, the owner of the building.
Tyburn was a village in the county of Middlesex close to the current location of Marble Arch and the southern end of Edgware Road in present-day London. It took its name from the Tyburn Brook, a tributary of the River Westbourne. The name Tyburn, from Teo Bourne means 'boundary stream', but Tyburn Brook should not be confused with the better known River Tyburn, which is the next tributary of the River Thames to the east of the Westbourne.
Newgate Prison was a prison at the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey Street just inside the City of London, England, originally at the site of Newgate, a gate in the Roman London Wall. Built in the 12th century and demolished in 1904, the prison was extended and rebuilt many times, and remained in use for over 700 years, from 1188 to 1902.
The Courts of England and Wales, supported administratively by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in England and Wales.
The Royal Courts of Justice, commonly called the Law Courts, is a court building in London which houses the High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales. The High Court also sits on circuit and in other major cities. Designed by George Edmund Street, who died before it was completed, it is a large grey stone edifice in the Victorian Gothic style built in the 1870s and opened by Queen Victoria in 1882. It is one of the largest courts in Europe. It is located on Strand within the City of Westminster, near the border with the City of London. It is surrounded by the four Inns of Court, St Clement Danes church, The Australian High Commission, King's College London and the London School of Economics. The nearest London Underground stations are Chancery Lane and Temple.
The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court in Scotland. The High Court is both a trial court and a court of appeal. As a trial court, the High Court sits on circuit at Parliament House or the former Sheriff Court building in Edinburgh, or in dedicated buildings in Glasgow and Aberdeen. The High Court sometimes sits in various smaller towns in Scotland, where it uses the local sheriff court building. As an appeal court the High Court sits only in Edinburgh.
The Crown Court of England and Wales is, together with the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal, one of the constituent parts of the Senior Courts of England and Wales. It is the highest court of first instance in criminal cases; however, for some purposes the Crown Court is hierarchically subordinate to the High Court and its Divisional Courts.
A sheriff court is the principal local civil and criminal court in Scotland, with exclusive jurisdiction over all civil cases with a monetary value up to £100,000, and with the jurisdiction to hear any criminal case except treason, murder, and rape which are in the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court of Justiciary. Though the sheriff courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the High Court over armed robbery, drug trafficking, and sexual offences involving children, the vast majority of these cases are heard by the High Court. Each court serves a sheriff court district within one of the six sheriffdoms of Scotland. Each sheriff court is presided over by a sheriff, who is a legally qualified judge, and part of the judiciary of Scotland.
A recorder is a judicial officer in England and Wales and some other common law jurisdictions.
Two sheriffs are elected annually for the City of London by the Liverymen of the City Livery Companies. Today's sheriffs have only nominal duties, but the historical officeholders had important judicial responsibilities. They have attended the Justices at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, since its original role as the Court for the City and Middlesex.
There are various levels of judiciary in England and Wales — different types of courts have different styles of judges. They also form a strict hierarchy of importance, in line with the order of the courts in which they sit, so that judges of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales are generally given more weight than district judges sitting in county courts and magistrates' courts. On 31 March 2006 there were 1,825 judges in post in England and Wales, most of whom were circuit judges (626) or district judges (572). Some judges with United Kingdom-wide jurisdiction also sit in England and Wales, particularly Justices of the United Kingdom Supreme Court and members of the tribunals judiciary.
The Recorder of London is an ancient legal office in the City of London. The Recorder of London is the senior Circuit Judge at the Central Criminal Court, hearing trials of criminal offences. The Recorder is appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the City of London Corporation with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor. The Recorder's deputy is the Common Serjeant of London, appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor. The Recorder of London is, since 14 April 2020, HHJ Mark Lucraft QC.
A Sessions House is one of several buildings in the United Kingdom which were historically dedicated courts of quarter sessions, where criminal trials were held four times a year on quarter days. They were also used for other purposes to do with the administration of justice, for example as a venue for the courts of assize (Assizes). The courts of quarter sessions and assize, which did not necessarily sit in dedicated premises, were replaced in England by permanent Crown Courts by the Courts Act 1971, and in 1975 in Scotland by other courts. Several buildings formerly used as sessions houses are still named "Sessions House"; some are still used for the administration of justice, while others have different uses. Some are listed buildings of architectural importance.
Green Street Courthouse is a courthouse between Green Street and Halston Street in the Smithfield area of Dublin, Ireland. It was the site of many widely discussed criminal trials from 1797 until 2010, when the Criminal Courts of Justice building opened.
The Common Serjeant of London is an ancient British legal office, first recorded in 1291, and is the second most senior permanent judge of the Central Criminal Court after the Recorder of London, acting as deputy to that office, and sitting as a judge in the trial of criminal offences.
Henry Cornish was a London alderman, executed in the reign of James II of England.
The High Court of Justice in London, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, are the Senior Courts of England and Wales. Its name is abbreviated as EWHC for legal citation purposes.
Sir Richard Somers Travers Christmas Humphreys was a noted British barrister and judge who, during a sixty-year legal career, was involved in the cases of Oscar Wilde and the murderers Hawley Harvey Crippen, George Joseph Smith and John George Haigh, the 'Acid Bath Murderer', among many others.
William Spiggot was a highwayman who was captured by Jonathan Wild's men in 1721. During his trial at the Old Bailey, he at first refused to plead and was therefore sentenced to be pressed until he pleaded. This was called Peine forte et dure. He was later executed, after a second trial when he pleaded not guilty, on 11 February 1721 at Tyburn, London.
Newman Knowlys was an English barrister and judge and the Common Serjeant of London and Recorder of London.
The Four Courts Marshalsea was a prison in Dublin, Ireland until 1874. The keeper of the prison was the Marshal of the Four Courts, a role filled after 1546 by the Constable of Dublin Castle.
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