The Legal quarter of London is a fascinating area to explore – weaving through this part of the city are the Inns of Court, the Royal Courts of Justice and the central criminal court of the Old Bailey
First let’s have a look at some of London’s leading solicitors, the firms that handle the high-net worth individuals, and look after the legal needs of the Royal family.
Then we cut through a gateway into Lincoln’s Inn, the oldest of the four Inns of Court – a chance to learn more about the lives of the Barristers and Judges who practise here, find out who the chapel bell tolls for and how Dickens’ Bleak House became a byword for the greed of lawyers.
Into a small alleyway and we’ll ponder the legal profession’s love affair with wigs and gowns, find out why senior QCs are called ‘Silks’ and why Judges are sometimes struck by sudden deafness.
Round the corner, and we find ourselves outside the Royal Courts of Justice where the best paid Barristers in the land contest cases reported around the world. This Cathedral to Justice is like no other: one of the largest courts in Europe it’s the stage on which many famous names have battled it out.
Fleet Street marks the boundary with Middle and Inner Temple, two further Inns of Court. They owe their history to the Knights Templars who, on returning from the Crusades, built themselves a monastery hard by the River Thames. We’ll see the famous Round Church that the Knights founded, without doubt one of London’s best kept secrets.
Passing by the church that inspired the wedding cake, we’ll pause outside the Old Bailey, the main criminal court in this country, where trials of national importance play out. It was here that the notorious Newgate Prison once stood, famous as ‘Hell on Earth’ and for many the gateway to the gallows.
Let’s finish by heading to Smithfield, where we’ll find a plaque set into the wall remembering those who died agonising deaths nearby, roasted alive for refusing to give up their faith.
Did you know?
- Barristers have a long tradition of never shaking hands with each other when they meet.
- Five of the world’s 10 largest law firms (by revenue) have their Headquarters in the UK.
If you want to know more, you’ll have to book a tour.