The Old Bailey Luncheon

29 April 2022


How the fallen has risen! Last year courtesy of the British Red Cross, I found myself in the dock of Number 1 Court in the Central Criminal Court. Today, courtesy of our Deputy Master, Alderman and Sheriff Alison Gowman, I was elevated to the Judges Dining Room. In the company of Alison’s guests, including the Art Historian and broadcaster Dan Cruickshank, we dined with the eminent judges sitting that day, dispensing justice in their court rooms.

I was fortunate to be seated next to His Honour Judge and Liveryman Anthony Leonard QC and the Recorder of London (the senior permanent judge), His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC. I am told these lunches are a regular occurrence and came about to keep our judges in touch with the common people. Well, I know my place! Plaisterers, you need not worry, Liveryman Leonard dutifully greeted me warmly as ‘Master’

The luncheon was expeditious; our judges had work to do, hearing the most serious criminal cases in the country. Unfortunately, Covid rules are still in force which meant we could not go and sit in on a trial, but the Deputy Master provided a swift behind the scenes tour of the Old Bailey, including a viewing of the old ‘Newgate’s Knocker’, now mounted on a wooden block. Newgate Prison was demolished in 1902 making way for the new Current Building, completed in 1907.

Our Art Historian was interested in the history and architectural styles of the building, and those allegorical paintings representing Labour, Wisdom, Art and Truth, whilst I wanted to hear more of those famous trials and villains. What fascinated us all was a shard of glass, jutting out from a wall marking the IRA bombing of the building in 1973, injuring 243 people.

A big thank you to the Deputy Master for inviting me to this Luncheon with the judges and for her lightening tour of this infamous building. A wonderful experience – and they let me out!

Margaret, Master

The Old Bailey Luncheon