The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales stands on a London street named Old Bailey - from which it gets its more easily remembered nickname.
The present building was opened in 1907 by King Edward VII on the site of the previous courthouse and Newgate gaol, some bricks of which were used in the new facade.
The statue of Lady Justice sits on top of the domed roof. The 22-ton, 12ft high bronze statue, covered in gold leaf, was modelled after the Roman goddess of justice Iustitia. Introduced by the Roman emperor Augustus, she is depicted holding a set of scales in her left hand, symbolising the weighing of the prosecution and defence. A sword, symbolising authority and the swiftness and finality of justice, is held in her right hand. Her toga represents civilisation.
The depiction of Justice as blindfold, to represent impartiality was introduced from the 16th century. The Old Bailey statue is not blindfold in accordance with the original Roman statues.
In 1937 the statue was re-gilded in preparation for the Coronation of King George V. Normally re-gilding takes place every five years estimated at at a cost of over £500 in 1971 (over £7,000 today). Cleaning takes place every year in August when the courts are not sitting.
“We trust that this building, whilst well adapted for the transaction of legal business, also possesses architectural features at once dignified and beautiful, which will make it an ornament to the metropolis of your Empire and a fitting home for the first Criminal Court of Justice in your Majesty's dominions.”
- The Recorder of London at the opening ceremony.
Enjoyed this capsule? Please show your support by donating to Retronaut below:
Text and curation: Amanda Uren