The trip to the Royal Courts of Justice
On Tuesday 22nd March 40 intrepid members made the journey to London for a conducted tour of the Royal Court of Justice in the Strand. We had left Great Baddow early because of previous trips when there were great hold ups in London due to road and building works but, in contradiction, the journey was completed in 1½ hours and so there was plenty of time to get a coffee and sandwich before our appointed tour time of 3:30 p.m.; there was also time to view the other interesting buildings in the area namely St Clement Danes, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force, which is located almost opposite. A moment of panic ensued when Pat approached the Information Desk regarding our booking and was told they knew nothing about us; fortunately, and to cut a long story short, all was well in the end and the guides turned up just after 3:30 pm.
Once our tour guides arrived [both trainee barristers] we set off in two groups round the building. The Main Hall is splendid, with portraits of judges and two balconies – the original intention was that there would be a bridge across the Hall. There is a picture on one wall showing how US Army soldiers were allowed to sleep in the hall for a short period during WWII. We were told that only God could make things perfect and so were shown the deliberate imperfections. Around the building, which is much larger than it appears from the outside, we visited the costume gallery, where we saw the ‘black cap’ and heard how the prisoner must have felt when the judge put on the black cap before sentencing him, and the Bear Garden [so named as Queen Victoria heard the noise coming from the room and said ‘It sounds like a Bear Garden!’]. We finished our tour all together in a Court Room, where our charming guides answered questions and told us more about the legal system.
[PLEASE NOTE – the building is a public building, so anyone can visit for free, and there is a small café.]
We left the Royal Courts of Justice around 5:00 pm and made our way, through the rush hour traffic, to Happy Days Fish Restaurant in Whitechapel, just off Petticoat Lane, where we enjoyed a wonderful fish and chip supper before heading back to Great Baddow. I think most of us were tired and footsore from all the walking and climbing stone steps but all agreed it had been an enjoyable and interesting trip.