The Old Bailey
The Old Bailey is now the Central Criminal Court of London. It stands on the site of the old, notorious Newgate Prison where, in the past, prisoners were held for long periods of time in horrific conditions. This site was originally the principal west gate of the Roman City of London and during excavations in 1903 and 1907 it was discovered that the gate was rebuilt twice by the Romans.


By the time of the Norman conquest it was known as Chamberlain’s gate and it began to be used as a prison. In the 12th century it was renamed New Gate and again was used as a jail, both for the county of Middlesex and the City of London. In 1423 the old gate and jail were demolished and rebuilt to serve as a prison until 1767 when it was decided to build a new jail. Newgate was demolished in 1777 but the new building kept the same name. The prison was again demolished in 1902 to make way for the present building designed by E W Montford and which was opened by King Edward VII in 1907. This is the time when the coloured marble was used for the decoration.


The references to cipollino in the Old Bailey were to 8 columns to decorate the 1907 entrance. There is in fact far more than that. The Grand Entrance which was part of the decoration which took place in 1907 has a great deal of cipollino. The first floor Grand Hall has less but there is still some. ‘The columns in the ground floor entrance hall are monoliths of Greek cipollino 16 ft. high. The other columns in the ground floor corridors are alternately verde antico and cipollino and the walls are lined with bands of Verdasse and Hopton Wood. On the first floor the walls of the hall and main corridors are lined with pavonazzo and cipollino bands.’11


On the right hand side of the grand staircase, facing the stairs, there are two sets of two cipollino columns, (interspersed with equal columns of verde antico of similar proportions), with a height of 4 - 5 m. and a diameter of .43 m. They have a black marble base and black marble capitals (Plate 8.44). On each side of the door to Court No 17 there is cipollino wall cladding made up of two panels of marble, the lower measuring 3 m. high, .35 m. wide and .33 deep; the upper measuring the same width and depth and between 2 m. and 3 m. in height (Plate 8.45). There is matching cladding around the window opposite. Close to the staircase, on either side of it, there are groups of two large cipollino columns with a cipollino clad pier on each side of the columns, and wall cladding in cipollino behind (Plate 8.46). The columns are approximately 6 m. in height and .65 m in diameter. The cipollino clad piers are the same height as the columns and measure .57 m. in width and .25 m. in depth. The cladding behind measures approximately 1.20 m. and is the same height as the columns (Plate 8.47 & 8.48). The same architectural pattern exists on the other side of the staircase so that in the length of the hall there are two sets of two of the smaller cipollino columns (interspersed by the verde antico columns) then the smaller cipollino clad piers, followed by the groups of two larger columns and the cipollino clad piers on each side of the staircase and opposite (four in all) and then the smaller two sets of two cipollino columns interspersed with the verde antico at the northern end of the hall.


The Grand Staircase leading up to the Grand Hall on the first floor has cipollino on either side of the stairs. On the upper part of the first flight there is a diagonal strip running parallel with the rail, .15 m. wide and 5 m. long, and a diagonal strip running parallel with the stairs, measuring 5-6 m. long and .15 m. wide. There are three vertical strips connecting with the diagonal strips, the highest 3.30 m. high and the other two being lower as they reach the corner of the stairs (Plate 8.49) This pattern is repeated on the other side of the stairs. All round the dado at the top of the stairs there are vertical strips of cipollino, 14 in all measuring .15 m. wide and of differing heights.


The Grand Hall, on the first floor, has cipollino at the southern end of the corridor around the door leading to courts 5-8. There is a semi circular curved strip over the door .15 m. wide and approximately 4 m. in length and a horizontal strip below (Plate 8.50). On either side of the door are cipollino clad piers measuring 2.04 m. in height, .34 m. wide and .15 m. deep (Plate 8.51). There are also cipollino clad piers on either side of the door marked ‘Shorthand Writers’ measuring 1.96 m. high, .31 m. wide and .06 m. deep and these piers continue along the walls of the corridor, four on each side (Plates 8.52 & 8.53). The walls are decorated with pavonazzo and cipollino strips, in four groups of four, 16 on the inner side and 14 on the outer side which is interrupted by two doors (Plate 8.54). Around the doors are .23 m. x .65m. pieces of cladding
The main hall has considerable green marble which is thought not to be Karystian cipollino. In the 1940s this part of the hall was damaged by bombs during the war and replaced possibly by a different marble, perhaps Apuan. There are some exceptions. These are two sets of Karystian cipollino clad piers, one next to the Office Post Room, (
Plate 8.55), and the four niches, one empty (Plates 8.56 & 8.57). The others contain the statues of Charles I and Charles II and Robert Gresham. The niches are approximately 4-5 m. high and 1.62 m. wide and are made up of many small pieces of cipollino, too many and too small to be worth measuring. Below the figures there are two rectangular panels of Karystian cipollino measuring 1.08 m. wide and .29 m. high, cut in two matching pieces.

11 Mountford, Edward W, Architect, The New Sessions House, London. (Extract from book)

Maps and Plates

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Plate 8.44 Two cipollino columns, near the Grand staircase, the Grand Entrance, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plate 8.45 Cipollino clad pier at each side of Court No 17, the Grand Entrance, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plate 8.46 Sets of cipollino clad piers and cipollino columns at each side of the Grand Staircase, the Grand Entrance, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plates 8.47 Large cipollino columns and cipollino clad piers on left hand side of the Grand Staircase, the Grand Entrance, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plate 8.48 Large cipollino marble columns and cipollino clad piers on right hand side of the Grand staircase, the Grand Entrance, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plate 8.49 Strips of cipollino on the Grand Staircase leading to the Grand Hall, The Old Bailey

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Plate 8.50 Semi-circular and horizontal strips of cipollino at the end of the corridor leading to courts 5-8, the Grand Hall, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plate 8.51 Cipollino clad piers on either side of the door leading to courts 5-8, the Grand Hall, The Old Bailey. London.

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Plate 8.52 Cipollino clad piers on either side of the door marked ‘Shorthand Writers’ the Grand Hall, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plate 8.53 Rows of cipollino clad piers on either side of the corridor leading to courts 5-8, the Grand Hall, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plate 8.54 Cipollino strips decorating the walls of the corridor leading to courts 5-8, with panels of pavonazzo marble, the Grand Hall, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plate 8.55 Two sets of cipollino clad piers in the Grand Hall, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plates 8.56 & 8.57 Cipollino clad niches, one empty, one with statue of Charles I, the Grand Hall, The Old Bailey, London.

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Plates 8.56 & 8.57 Cipollino clad niches, one empty, one with statue of Charles I, the Grand Hall, The Old Bailey, London.