Royal Courts of Justice Tour

May 17, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Have about 2 hours free during the week and £6? Why not book a tour of the Royal Courts of Justice.

Royal Courts of Justice (2)

The Royal Courts of Justice on Fleet street are the home of the UK’s civil and criminal appeals courts. Conversely criminal cases are heard at the Old Bailey. The planning and construction took decades and was almost complete at the time of architect George Edmund Street’s death. It was opened in 1882, 16 years after Parliament established an architectural competition for the courts in 1866.

These stories and more are imparted to you over a two hour tour. Generally held twice a month but contact the guide as it can change. I found myself the odd man out as the lone individual amongst an arts trust tour. They were all very nice!

The first part of the tour is held in one of the courtrooms and takes on a traditional class room feel as we’re told about the history and functions of the court. There’s plenty of opportunity for questions too. Of note apparently no one (including lawyers) ever know the name of the current high lord judge. For the record it’s Judge Judge. Cool name.

Most of the rest of the tour is spent walking around with guide pointing out various architectural and design highlights, such as the intentionally unfinished pillar and the ‘grafitti’ on some of the other columns.

Of particular note is that the Royal Courts are an open building (well after you get past security that is) and anyone can come in and sit in the great hall or wander into most court cases.

The tour is quite worthwhile while it took a little while to get going it was nonetheless quite interesting. Perhaps if you have a strong knowledge of the English legal system the introductory parts may be dull but if not or you have an interest in both the architecture and the system then this tour is recommended.

Royal Courts of Justice (3)

Check out the court’s FAQ for details on contacting the tour manager.

Royal Courts of Justice (4)

The day I visited there was a very small protest asking for smoking to be banned in films.

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