Author Topic: The secret world of the Old Bailey  (Read 345 times)

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Offline EC

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The secret world of the Old Bailey
« on: June 09, 2013, 01:16:32 AM »
Had no idea where to put this, but it is interesting.

Step through a door marked "do not wedge open" at the Old Bailey and you immediately start to descend into more than 1,000 years of criminal history.

Among the sights to be seen beyond the door, which is right by the entrance to the 74 cells in the historic court building, is an exposed section of rough stone Roman wall, which formed part of the defensive structure of "Londinium".

Even back then there were dungeons here, and later, in the 12th Century, the gatehouse in the wall, known as Newgate, became part of the infamous hell-hole which was Newgate Prison.

The prison walls can be seen built on top of the Roman wall.

"This is somewhere most people would not have liked coming," says Charles Henty, who has the ancient title of Secondary of London, Under-Sherriff and High Bailiff of Southwark.

Effectively he is the managing director of the Old Bailey, probably the most famous criminal court in the world.
Public executions

The building's smooth running is dependent on age-old infrastructure, including 1960's boilers and an electrical system described as "out of the ark".
Dead Man's Walk at the Old Bailey Dead Man's Walk led prisoners to the gallows

As a result, the City of London Corporation, which owns it, is embarking on a £37m modernisation plan behind the scenes.

Speaking in a small, one-windowed cell at the end of a long corridor, Mr Henty says: "This is the condemned man's cell. This is where you were held prior to your execution."

Executions were held out on the street outside the Old Bailey until 1868, and were a major crowd pleaser.

The best view was from the pub The Magpie and Stump, apparently.

The condemned man's cell has two doors; one through which you enter, the other through which you leave, never to return.

"You're hit immediately by this ghastly spectacle of seven or eight arches getting narrower and narrower," says Mr Henty as he steps outside.

This is known as "Dead Man's Walk", leading to the gallows.

More here:
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