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Royal Courts of Justice Typeface

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Posted (edited)

On a recent visit to The Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London, I noticed that the typeface used on the main sign outside is also used for large print sign posts and notices in and around the courts (over 100) court rooms accross the inter-linked buildings.
I thought this would be easy to look up. But all I find is a suggestion that the typeface was designed by the Architect George Edmund Street.

Street was at the spearhead of the 'gothic revival' during the mid-victorian period, and the RCJ is his seminal work, which was mostly churches and books on design and architecture.
One of Street's apprentices was William Morris and scans show the closest font to be 'Morris', a recent design based on Morris's original typefaces; but 'closest' doesn't mean close.
Nothing really comes close to the capital R, with the downward slope at the top of the bowl,the decorative 'blade' protruding from the leg. The tilted oval bowl on the lower case 'o'; 'drunk as a judge'?
Has anyone come accross this in digital font, or indeed have any knowledge about the history of the font or a full copy of the glyphs?
I'm assuming it's 'crown copyright' but I need support; clearly.
Thanks for reading.



Edited by essexman
Add link to RCJ site
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On 5/22/2024 at 12:55 PM, MissNobody said:

Morris is the best I can find as well. The 'T' seems a bit out of place. If you look closely at 'o's they're similar, but not identical. So this might be originally hand-painted.

Thanks for commenting - My last day there yesterday, I had planned to get some sneak pics - photography is banned - but were were in deliberation for over 5 hours and there was only security left.

Morris' Golden families are closer than Kelmscott because the RCJ has a pronounced, ornate broken cross apex on the uppercase W.  Other notable caps are N and B, there is a sign designating a room as "BBC Studio" and the fancy Bs next to relativly normal C could not have been predicted in the 1870s, but might have influenced the design.

The type is easily differentiated from the simplicity of William Morris or Emery Walker but still seems related.

Looking into it further, I also wonder why Street did not go for a more Gothic design given his passion for Gothic revival is realised in this building.


As for use - most signs are either printed on ceramic or plastic tiles - inserted into wooden slots on A2-A1 sized boards - reminicent of church hymn number boards, but mounted atop on wooden stands. These might be recent but appear to be old or restored. Some are printed on paper and stuck on notice boards.


The Royal Courts of Justice are open to the public and free to enter Mon-Fri 9-4.30.

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