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June 28, 2002
Here's a truly off-the-beaten-path tip: instead of following the signs to the visitor's gallery, go up the street and around the corner to Old Bailey Street and ring the bell. You will be admitted to the old wing of the courthouse. The courtrooms are far more picturesque...think Marlene Dietrich in that classic movie, "Witness for the Prosecution."
The day we visited, we saw a jury return a guilty verdict in an attempted murder case. The defendant's girlfriend screamed, jumped up and ran from the courtroom yelling "It's not fair, it's not fair." Sitting next to her was a character in a pastel green sharkskin suit with a thick gold ring on each finger. Human drama. Then we went into another courtroom and watched part of a kidnap-murder trial. Even if you're not a lawyer, it's fascinating stuff.
Court is scheduled to start at 10:00, but often the proceedings are delayed. They break for lunch at 1:00 and then resume about 2 p.m. until about 4:30, Monday through Friday. Backpacks, cameras and cell phones are strictly forbidden. There is no place to check them in the courthouse, so if you have any, you will be denied admittance. No exceptions.
From journal On & Off the Tourist Trail in London
February 4, 2001
From journal London--above & underground