A Warwick group are inviting people to discover more about the town’s old court house - and travel back in time to experience a 19th century magistrates session.
Unlocking Warwick is leading free tours around the newly refurbished building in Jury Street, which was originally built in 1571, on bank holiday Monday (May 5), before enacting a dramatic representation, based on town archives, of a petty magistrates session of 1851.
A gift to the Corporation of Warwick from Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the building was in its early years used to house the corporation’s weekly meetings. After begin damaged in the Fire of Warwick in 1694, the building was replaced with the sandstone Grade I listed building that stands there today. It was used as a magistrates court until 1970.
Thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant, the building, which is now used for Warwick Town Council meetings and as the town’s Tourist Information Centre and the Warwick Yeomanry Museum, has recently undergone an extensive renovation - and its restored ballroom is now available for hire.
During Monday’s tours - which take place at 11.30am, 1pm and 2.30pm - visitors will learn more about the court house’s history and the part is has played, and continues to play, in the story of Warwick. At the end of each tour, members of Unlocking Warwick will perform the dramatic representation, during which a motley crew of drunkards, vandals, thieves, and workhouse absconders will receive summary justice from Charles Redfern Esq, chairman of the bench and mayor. Punishments could be fines, time in the stocks, flogging or confinement with hard labour in the local ‘House of Correction’.
The drama has been researched and written by volunteers and will be performed at 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm. Performances are suitable for all ages and free of charge.