On 29th March 2022 London Studies One had its first excursion of the year with 29 members taking part. This was to be an Old Bailey tour which, as it happened, turned out not to include the Old Bailey! More of this later.
After travelling from Edenbridge and surrounding areas we arrived at the lovely Victorian pub, the Viaduct Tavern, in London (see photo). There we received complimentary coffee before meeting up with our guide, Chris, who related the, sometimes gruesome, history of Newgate Prison, which predated the Old Bailey, and the fate of those who attended there, with more dying whilst awaiting trial than were actually executed. We were shown where those executions took place before they were relocated to Tyburn. The executions were, we were told, a very popular source of public entertainment with high prices paid for the best vantage points. Often hangmen could be paid more if they could stretch the hanging. (Forgive the pun!) After telling us about some of the more unusual cases, our guide gave us an insight into the work of lawyers today at the Old Bailey as well as telling us of the origin of the wearing of wigs by judges and others.