I’ve written about the Supreme Court building in London before, particularly in regards to the beautiful sculptures outside, but Open House London gave me the opportunity to explore the interior. Designed by James S Gibson with Skipworth and Gordon it actually houses both The Supreme Court and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (the court of final appeal for the UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies).
During Open House London I was able to visit several of the court rooms and the exhibition space in the lower ground floor. The present building was completed in 1913 and is the third courthouse on the site. It used to be the administration building for Middlesex County Coroner and underwent a major renovation when it was chosen to be the home of the Supreme Court.
I started off my self-guided tour by visiting Court Three where the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council sits. One of the more slightly modern looking rooms it had some lovely stained glass windows displaying the arms of sheriffs from 1917.
Next was the stunning library, not normally open to the public, which used to be three rooms (and was created by removal of the ground floor that was Crown Court One. The ceiling has actually been painted to look like stone with the Royal Coat of Arms at the centre.
On the second floor is Court Room One, the largest of the courtrooms with the the original hammer beam ceiling and original light fittings. I was particularly impressed with the custom made crescent shaped benches, each with a unique sculpture on the side and arms.
In Court Room Two, which is the most modern of the court rooms, you can see a beautiful glass sculpture of The Supreme Court emblem featuring the rose of England, leek leaves of Wales, thistle of Scotland and blue five petalled flax flower of Northern Ireland.
The building has some beautiful decorative details, from ceilings and stained glass windows to carpets to interesting items on display in the permanent exhibition space. I’d highly recommend a visit – you can go on tours for a small fee most Fridays of the year, or go on Open House London weekend to visit for free.
You can find more photos here.