An insight into British justice and a visit to The Old Bailey

1047 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do

Date of travel

November, 2022

Product name

Legal London Tour

Product country


Product city


Travelled with


Reasons for trip


If you’re interested in the British justice system, I’d recommend the Legal London Tour with Tim Wood, a former crime journalist. We were due to meet outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand and despite there being people and placards at the entrance as a women with Down’s syndrome had just lost an abortion appeal, twenty of us found Tim at 11am.

Having gone through airport security style screening, and being told photographs were not allowed inside, we were advised this would be the last opportunity for a loo stop on the two-hour tour.

Tim told us the building’s design was reminiscent of a cathedral in both style and scale with grand gothic arches, stained-glass windows bearing the coats of arms of Lord Chancellors and keepers of the Great Seal, and a mosaic marble floor. There was a statue of the architect, George Edward Street, who died before the building was opened in 1882. His untimely death at the age of 57, was said to be from stress.

The tour took us up and down stairs and along corridors to the ‘Costume Museum’ with glass cases filled with robes and wigs from various eras. Tim explained the history of the wearing of wigs, and how a barristers horse hair wig, can cost up to £500, and how new barristers will sweep dusty shelves with their wigs, to make the wig look older and the person more experienced. Vegan wigs, made from natural fibres are now becoming popular.

We took in the interestingly named Bear Garden and heard that when Queen Victoria opened the building the room the noise was so intense and reminiscent of the atmosphere at a bear baiting contest, she said it was like a bear garden. Having passed court room 14, where the Wagatha Christie case was heard, we went into a court room and were just in time to hear the judge’s 20-minute pronouncement. The prisoner who was beamed in from the prison, was told that his appeal against a 5-year term for two burglaries was not upheld. We thought this fitting bearing in mind he had 125 previous convictions.

Leaving the RCJ behind, we headed out to Lincoln’s Inn, one of four Inns of Court, where we strolled through the pleasant, green gardens with Tim pointing out the various areas.

Fortunately the November weather was kind as it was then a 10-minute walk to the Old Bailey (or Central Criminal Court to use its proper title). Here Tim told us all about Newgate Prison which had been located on the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey Street. He had lots of stories from various eras ranging from the boiling alive of the Bishop of Rochester’s cook, to more recent distressing cases he’d covered as a reporter.

Whilst a visit inside the Old Bailey is not included, we were told how we could gain access to the public gallery, the protocols to be observed, and more importantly, which shops and pubs would store large bags and/or mobile phones as neither are permitted inside.

After a swift drink in the nearby Viaduct Tavern, we joined the queue for the 2pm post lunch session. Having given way to friends and family of the convicted, we were allowed in and found security very tight. Although Tim had provided the case listings, some courts were not in operation, and we had to keep climbing stairs as the courts are located over three floors. But the staff were friendly and helpful and guided us to a functioning court which had space in the public gallery. Unfortunately it was a rather tedious pre-trial hearing with a discussion centering around admissible evidence, and it was difficult to hear. Although we’d been told to stay for at least 30 minutes to avoid too much disruption, bearing in mind we were at the far end of the narrow row, we stayed put until the judge decided it was the end of the day and the court was adjourned. However, the afternoon certainly gave me a taste of how the system operates and I cannot wait to return.

The tour costs £15 /£10 for over 65s but access to the Old Bailey is free.

Legal London Combined Tour

Helen Jackson

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.