03 July 2014

Royal Courts of Justice Tour, London

Beeps, clattering and quiet voices echo as people file through the security screening at the entrance and into the grand hall. It's sandstone walls and mosaic floors illuminated by the large Gothic arched windows.

A sign across from me says "This Grade 1 listed building is one of the largest wonders of Gothic revival architecture in England." 

I feel under dressed and out of place in my grey trousers and black t-shirt while everyone else around me is in suits or formal wear. Oh well, at least I don't stick out too much I think, join my tour group and hand our guide, Brian, a tenner.

I'm in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. They are open to the public to freely go in during the weekday and even sit in on hearings. Also, if you are interested, there is an exhibition of Legal Dress which includes robes, wigs and other paraphernalia. As I'm always on the hunt for different things to do in London, last week I decided to give the courts a try and found it to be such an interesting insight into the legal system.

Whats interesting about the Royal Courts of Justice?

The Royal Courts of Justice were built to merge the number of smaller courts dotted around London. The location was on a site of slums housing 4250 people in only 343 houses.

Some very interesting and public trials have taken place here. For example, Pal McCartney and Heather Mills divorce case was heard here, the Spice Girls were sued for breach of contract. The halls and courts have also seen David Beckham, Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and JK Rowling. And some very serious judicial reviews take place here like Euthanasia and the right to die.

What to see

The Great Hall
Costume Gallery
Painted Room
Bear Garden (not actually a garden)

Other information about the courts

To find the architect, a competition was held and, a then unknown architect named George Street won but died a year before its completion. His son completed the building. The site is now home to 100 court rooms, 150 judges and over 100 staff. Of the 100 court rooms there are 19 that are original and designed differently to each other. Court room 4 is the largest and the best and where the Lord Chief Justice presides.

Visiting the Royal Courts of Justice

The courts are located on the Strand in central London. Closest tube stations are Temple, Blackfriars, Holborn, Chancery Lane. Opening hours are 9am to 4.30pm. The courts generally sit from 10.30am till 4.30pm with a short adjournment between 1pm and 2pm for lunch on weekdays. You can visit on your own or do a tour. Tours are £10/£12, run at 11am or 2pm and can be booked by emailing Brian on rcjtours@talktalk.net. You will undergo a security check so be prepared. Also note that photography inside is not permitted.

What do you think about seeing something like this when travelling?


  1. This has been in my to-do list forever...

  2. A great website with interesting and unique material what else would you need.Joseph Hayon