[ ... back to main menu for this book]
Old Bailey—the street which gives the name of common parlance to the great criminal court of the country, properly and officially styled-the Central Criminal Court, which stands on its north side under the same roof with Newgate Prison. It derives its name from the ballium or open space in front of the old City wall, along which it ran from Ludgate to Newgate. In the old days of public executions, Monday morning was often high festival in the Old Bailey, and Tom Noddy and McFuze, and Lieutenant Tregooze, and their friend Sir Carnaby Jenks of the Blues, would pay fabulous sums for a window in one of the public-houses opposite, from which to witness the edifying spectacle. There is nothing now to be seen on “hanging mornings” but a black flag, and the occupation of the tumbledown old taverns is to that extent gone. They are far from desolate, however, finding ample scope for their energies in providing for the smaller carrying trade of London, of which the Old Bailey may be roughly reckoned as the head-quarters. Almost every house in the street is a booking-office and place of call for at least a score or two of steady-going Barkises, who make their daily journeys to districts ignored by railways, and the student of eccentricities might waste his time to less purpose in many a more pretentious street.
Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879