Shared office space opens in iconic London courthouse above former dungeon


A shared office space has opened in an iconic 18th-century courthouse above cells which once held hardened criminals and featured in the likes of Oliver Twist. 

Old Sessions House, located in trendy Clerkenwell in Islington in north-east London, has been standing since 1779 and operated as Britain’s biggest courthouse from 1782 to 1852. 

It saw hundreds of the capital’s harshest punishments given out — and prisoners marched down to the dungeons in the basement. 

Fictional ruffian Oliver Twist was even hauled there in Charles Dickens’ 1838 novel after he was caught pickpocketing with the Artful Dodger and crew. 

But the Grade II* listed building has now become an office space and turns into a members-only club at night, where free-flowing drinks and canapes are provided. 

A shared office space has opened in an iconic 18th-century courthouse above cells which once held hardened criminals and featured in the likes of Oliver Twist

Old Sessions House, located in trendy Clerkenwell in Islington in north-east London, has been standing since 1779 and operated as Britain's biggest courthouse from 1782 to 1852

Old Sessions House, located in trendy Clerkenwell in Islington in north-east London, has been standing since 1779 and operated as Britain’s biggest courthouse from 1782 to 1852

Pictures show the trendy revamp of the courthouse, complete with houseplants, sofas and stylish furniture, as it is reimagined for the age of flexible working

Pictures show the trendy revamp of the courthouse, complete with houseplants, sofas and stylish furniture, as it is reimagined for the age of flexible working

But once it saw hundreds of the capital's harshest punishments given out — and prisoners marched down to the dungeons in the basement

But once it saw hundreds of the capital’s harshest punishments given out — and prisoners marched down to the dungeons in the basement

Workspace providers Knotel have bought up 22,000 square feet of the building, which now hosts 'beer Fridays' for its office workers

Workspace providers Knotel have bought up 22,000 square feet of the building, which now hosts ‘beer Fridays’ for its office workers

The Grade II* listed building has now become an office space and turns into a members-only club at night, where free-flowing drinks and canapes are provided

The Grade II* listed building has now become an office space and turns into a members-only club at night, where free-flowing drinks and canapes are provided

Fictional ruffian Oliver Twist was even hauled there in Charles Dickens' 1838 novel after he was caught pickpocketing with the Artful Dodger and crew (pictured: drawing of the courthouse in action)

Fictional ruffian Oliver Twist was even hauled there in Charles Dickens’ 1838 novel after he was caught pickpocketing with the Artful Dodger and crew (pictured: drawing of the courthouse in action)

The former law building overlooks Clerkenwell Green and boasts 'grandiose mezzanine areas, a restored eighteenth-century glass atrium, as well as a resplendent dome roof'

The former law building overlooks Clerkenwell Green and boasts ‘grandiose mezzanine areas, a restored eighteenth-century glass atrium, as well as a resplendent dome roof’

There is plenty of study space for quiet concentration during the working day, as well as amenities such as a rooftop terrace and pool

There is plenty of study space for quiet concentration during the working day, as well as amenities such as a rooftop terrace and pool

The historic building has a rich history, from being a courthouse to becoming derelict to now being reimagined once more as a co-working space

The historic building has a rich history, from being a courthouse to becoming derelict to now being reimagined once more as a co-working space

Old Sessions House: A history  

Old Sessions House, also known as the Middlesex Sessions House, was built in 1779 in a classical style with columns, a dome and staircase that mimic the Pantheon in Rome. 

It opened in 1782 as the nation’s largest courthouse, seeing hundreds of legal cases over the next 70 years. There were prison cells beneath. 

In the 20th century the court only saw magistrates’ cases and was eventually relocated. 

Between 1931 to 1973, Old Sessions House became the headquarters of Avery Scales, which made weighing machines. It fell into disrepair but was restored by a masonic trust in 1978. 

But its iconic architecture was acknowledged in 1994 as it was made a Grade II* listed building. 

In 2014 it was acquired by Sätila Studios who saw its potential for modern life, converting it into a restaurant and bar with a rooftop terrace and infinity pool. 

Now the building has been reimagined for the age of flexible working once again by Knotel as a co-working space.  

Workspace providers Knotel have bought up 22,000 square feet of the building, which now hosts ‘beer Fridays’ for its office workers. 

The former law building overlooks Clerkenwell Green and boasts ‘grandiose mezzanine areas, a restored eighteenth-century glass atrium, as well as a resplendent dome roof and will now be a carefully curated workclub for London’s creatives, entrepreneurs and businesses’.

Old Sessions House is built in a classical style, with columns, a dome and a staircase that mimic the Pantheon in Rome.  

Pictures show the trendy revamp of the courthouse, complete with houseplants, sofas and stylish furniture, as it is reimagined for the age of flexible working.   

And ‘lounge members’ will have access to the main lounge spaces, ‘with the option to book meeting rooms a la carte’.

Adjoined to the workspace in the same building is the separate Sessions Arts Club which has a roof terrace and pool.

From the rooftop, the workspace offers expansive panoramic views of the London skyline from an infinity swimming pool. 

Old Sessions House is just around the corner from Farringdon station, which saw the Elizabeth Line open in 2022, bringing thousands of additional commuters near the new co-working space.  

Michael Gross, CEO of Knotel, said: ‘Flexible working is not only here to stay, it has become increasingly valued as businesses look to bring employees back to the office while reducing the overhead inherent with traditional long-term office spaces.

‘Companies are seeking out inspiring locations with amenitised flexibility in their workspace planning. 

‘That’s why we are backing bricks and mortar in London – especially when the bricks are as beautiful as those in the Old Sessions House.

‘This is the first launch of a new concept for Knotel in which we will be bringing a remarkable selection of new workclubs to outstanding properties across London and other key European and North American cities.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk