Old Bailey

Old Bailey
Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, London
020 7192 2739
Region or country
England (London)

The Old Bailey

Known as the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, is one of a number of buildings housing the Crown Court. Behind its dignified façade the Old Bailey is a centre of intense activity with thousands of people entering the building on a daily basis. As well as judges, counsel, jurors, witnesses and defendants, these include the many staff needed to run the courts and the building.

The City of London Corporation owns and administers the building.

What can be found at the venue?
Historic building or site
Significant collections relating to regional crime and punishment organisation or to a particular individual
Completed in 1785, the Old Bailey, named after the street besides the new prison, soon became popular as the scene of hanging of those sentenced to death. The last ‘beheading’ in the country took place outside the prison in 1820. The building was further enlarged in 1824 when a second courtroom was added. 10 years later, an Act of Parliament extended the Central Criminal Court jurisdiction beyond the City and Middlesex to include parts of Essex, Surrey and Kent and to British ships on the high seas.

By the end of the century, more expansion work was needed and the first stone of the new Old Bailey was laid in 1902, and five years later the building, with four courts, 90 cells and stones from the demolished prison used in its façade, was completed. After extensive damage caused by an air-raid in 1941, the building was restored and enlarged and more courts added. Further work was carried out in the 60s and 70s – when an IRA car bomb damaged the building.

Among the famous trials are those of Oscar Wilde, Dr Crippen, William Joyce (‘Lord Haw Haw’), John Christie, the Krays and Peter Sutcliffe, the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’.
Does the venue have an online collections catalogue?
Web address of any other online resources
Details of opening for public access and / or research services
Access to the public galleries is free and based on a first come first served basis. Seating cannot be reserved under any circumstances. Groups, maximum 20 people, need to call in advance.
The Old Bailey is a public building open Monday to Friday 09.55 to 12.40 and 13.55 to 15.40.

Tours of the Old Bailey as well as talks are run by Old Bailey Insight and Legal London at: https://old-bailey.com/visiting-the-old-bailey/, email info@oldbaileyinsight.co.uk. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey online is an invaluable resource covering cases from 1674-1913 and can be found at the link above.
Available services or facilities
Accessibility and disability arrangements / Covid requirements
There is no admission for children under 14 and proof of age may be requested by security. Visitors who wish to watch court proceedings from the public galleries are requested to dress appropriately or entry to the court building will be refused. No large bags or rucksacks are allowed in the building, though handbags are acceptable. Also no electronic devices, food or drink are allowed. There are no facilities for the safekeeping of such items available at the entrance to the public galleries. Please follow any local arrangements inside the court building and remember to keep 2m distance from other people wherever possible. You must not come to court if you have symptoms of coronavirus, or are self-isolating because you live with someone that does.
Date information added or updated:
Entry ID No: