Warwick Court House takes on dramatic reenactment

Court House Play NNL-160325-095723001
Court House Play NNL-160325-095723001

Relive tales of drunkenness, disease and drama when Warwick Court House stages its first reenactment of 19th century legal cases.

The Unlocking Warwick volunteer group will take visitors back 165 years to experience a typical day in the town’s Court House using real cases and newspaper reports.

The dramatic reconstruction in the Jury Street court will see cases acted out before magistrates almost exactly as it would have happened thanks to a host of records and reports from the time.

Run in collaboration with law students from the University of Warwick and the Court House Players, the event will focus on hearings held in the town in 1851 - the year of the Great Exhibition in London.

Group secretary Rick Thompson said that despite changes across the UK, the year was one when many people in Warwick were experiencing abject poverty.

And that residents are all invited to be a part of the day where the historic building will once again hear the words of the Inspector of Nuisances on chronic overcrowding in boarding houses, rife diseases, and death from smallpox, typhus and scarlet fever.

Mr Thompson, who wrote the script, said: “The Warwick Advertiser carried detailed reports of some cases heard and we have some of the actual words spoken by the police witnesses and defendants.

“The Petty Sessions were a popular entertainment, so the audience will be encouraged to join in with noisy reactions.

“And members may be asked to play the parts of accused drunkards and felons.”

Crimes to be reenacted include theft, drunkenness and affray as more serious issues would have been referred up to the Judges at the Assizes.

The mayor automatically sat as head magistrate despite not being legally qualified - often handing out harsh sentences such as hard labour in the House of Correction.

The drama runs in the ballroom at 2.30pm on April 9, lasting around half an hour. Free to attend, see more at UnlockingWarwick.