Newest Review: ... and learn a bit about its history. The Galleries of Justice was opened as a museum in 1995, but its historical origin has been dated back ... more
Take a look at Nottingham's old prison system
The Galleries of Justice (Nottingham)
Member Name: linzeelou
The Galleries of Justice (Nottingham)
Advantages: Interesting, fun
Disadvantages: Prices, not for young children
Until recently, I hadn't really done much in Nottingham apart from going to pubs or eating out. I figured that considering it is my last year at university here, I should probably get some things done as I might not ever come back. One thing on my list was the Galleries of Justice, which I had heard was very popular. The Galleries of Justice is situated in the Lace Market area of Nottingham city center which is easily accessible by bus, car or tram. There is parking quite close so if you are driving it will only be a short walk away from your car.
Before visiting an attraction like this, I always want to find out the prices. You can go to http://www.galleriesofjustice.org.uk/ to find out everything you need to know about the Galleries of Justice along with ticket prices but below is a list of the most up to date prices (as of October 2012):
Facts & Felons Audio Tour
Mondays and Tuesdays (excluding school and bank holidays)
Family ticket: £25.50 (2 adults, 2 concessions, or 1 adult, 3 concessions)
Performance Tours & HM Prison Service Collection:
Wednesday - Sunday (During the school holidays, performance led tours are every day)
Family: £25.50 (2 adults, 2 concessions, or 1 adult, 3 concessions)
What is so good about the opening times is that this attraction is open 7 days a week. Being someone that works strange hours and days and also has classes to go to, this was perfect for me as it meant I could go whenever I wanted. Generally, the Galleries of Justice is open 9-5:30 Monday to Friday while Saturday and Sundays are 10-5. Tours begin a little later than the opening time and the last tour begins an hour before closing. If you combine your ticket to go to the caves you will also be able to save 25%.
The actual site of the Galleries of Justice has been around since the 14th century where it was used as a court and then a prison. Up until the 1980s, some of the court rooms had still been used so it was only in the 1990s that this was turned into a tourist attraction.
The tours take you most of the way around the attraction although some of it is self-guided. Guides will talk you through the different areas of the building which includes the Victorian Courtroom (where the different sections are also explained) and the cells. Upon entry to the Galleries of Justice and after paying to get in, you are given a prisoner number. This is the part where the tour gets interactive. From the beginning of the tour, you are asked to assume that prisoner's identity at particular points. You don't have to take part though if you don't feel comfortable with it, especially for younger visitors this might not be as appropriate. There are plenty of actors along the tour who act out different roles such as a guard or a prisoner. These people really make the tour more real and they make it possible to image people really working there back in the day.
What I found most interesting about the tour was getting to see the cells. Getting to actually stand in one and to be locked in really made me realise what conditions were like for prisoners. However, this doesn't mean I had any sympathy for them. They were criminals after all and deserved everything they got. This part of the tour really makes you realise how far things have come since the 14th century where conditions were absolutely terrible. It was also interesting that there was a separate area for women prisoners so for this part of the tour, new identities are given out to members of the public as women's crimes were a little bit different. The guide explains here how different women's punishments could be in comparison to those for men with examples given like being burned at the stake.
There are other areas to the Galleries of Justice which are self-guided like a range of exhibitions about prisons and transportation of prisoners. There is also an exhibition for the HM Prison Service which explains about the changes to the prison service over the past couple of hundred years. There is also a gift shop near the beginning of the tour although this is a little tricky to get back to as there are plenty of tunnels to walk through and I couldn't quite remember how to get back. Because of this, I cannot comment on what is being sold in the gift shop but I really wish that I could have had a look as I imagine there are all kinds of interesting items.
As this place does sound (and is!) quite freaky, the Galleries of Justice do tours aimed at younger children which aren't quite as scary. I also learned that they do ghost and terror tours as well as murder mystery evenings which I think would be a really fun thing to do!
Summary: A great place to visit in Nottingham