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
Do you dare....Feel the fear?
The Galleries of Justice (Nottingham)
Member Name: MandyMinx
The Galleries of Justice (Nottingham)
Date: 11/12/03, updated on 11/12/03 (1074 review reads)
Advantages: Great day out, learning experience
I want to tell you about a wonderful museum that can be found in the centre of Nottingham. No!....museum is the wrong word....Experience is more like it....Come with me as I give you a small insight into Nottingham's Galleries of Justice.
Firstly, I want you to close your eyes as I take you back in time to 1828.....This is not a museum then of course, it is Nottingham's gaol. You can see why this facility was built here, the cliff drop at the back of it is about 70ft down making escape extremely perilous. This area of Nottingham was the poorest part, with people making their homes in the caves that were cut out of the cliff face, this meant it was also the area that had the most crime.
Over the centuries, thousands of people would have entered this building with a deep sense of dread, uncertain of their fate.
Within these walls at this time you will find John Shipley aged 21......Lying on the cold floor in his cell, sentenced to death for stealing a sheep worth only ten shillings, to feed his hungry family.
Next to him in another corner of this damp, cold cell we find George Dickenson, fear
in his eyes as he contemplate leaving his family forever and being transported to Australia for the rest of his life. His crime?
He stole a wallet, that turned out to be empty, and was only worth sixpence. Nowadays he would have got what? A fine? Community service? There is a big difference between the way crime was dealt with in those days to how it is dealt with today.
In front of the prison was a building, known to this day as Shire Hall and this was the courthouse for Nottingham. There is a funny story that tells how in
1724 a great crowd of people crushed themselves into the courthouse for the monthly sitting. It seems the weight of these people, and the fact that the building was in a state of disrepair led to the floor giving way and some of the people, including the judge, falling into the cellars below. Don't fret though, apparently no-one died, just a few bruises and one broken leg. Apparently for a while, everyone thought that this was an assassination attempt and cries of 'plot...plot' went up around the community.
Unsurprisingly it took them nearly fifty years to build Nottingham a new court, but it is this building that you will be visiting if you get the opportunity to come to Nottingham and visit this museum. It was in-fact a court until as recently as 1987. When it was closed it was left for a few years and there was a lot of disharmony in Nottingham as people in the know tried to make up their minds what this beautiful grade 2 listed building should be used for. I think they made a good choice.
Anyway on with the tour....and back to present day.
FEEL THE FEAR!!
I think the days are long gone where it is enough to put a lot of old things in a room with very little information and call it a museum. With the technology and the information available to us in this day and age there are so many more doors open to us, so many experiences we can have.
The Galleries of Justice do not let anyone down in this department, although they are very careful to make this experience is as authentic as is possible.
This is very much a hands on experience that is fun for all ages.
Our guides for this adventure are the scary warder, who keeps his character going throughout the visit, and you very soon realise that having to deal with this man back then would have been far from a pleasant experience. You meet the judge, another nasty man and get the opportunity to stand in the dock and r
eceive sentencing for your crimes, you get a feeling of how it must have felt for those who stood there facing death , or transportation. There are the prisoners themselves who will tell you of life within the prison walls.I was moved by the 'graffiti ' that could be read on the walls of the exercise yards of the prison....'cast for death'.....'condemned for housebreaking ' and it really makes you think about the punishments of today in comparison. I have a habit of placing my hand on the walls of buildings like this, closing my eyes and trying to feel the history in the building, I didn't do this for long though, this place is really scary...spooky, so much history, so much suffering.
The second part of this unique experience is the visit to the police galleries located in the building next door, and yes, this was also a working building until the court closed its doors.
On entering here you will be met by a policeman in a costume befitting 1905. I was arrested, read my rights and then fingerprinted.( you can take this home!)
Some of the people were then given sentences......one woman was sentenced to Laundry duty, Phew...glad it wasn't me!I hate washing at the best of times , but again it felt very real and the characters played their parts very well.
The Galleries have some really interesting exhibits as well.
There is the magnificent, authentic Victorian courtroom...with everything carved out of the most wonderful wood (I wouldn't like to be the one who has to keep it polished!)
There is the worlds largest collection of police memorabilia and the wigs and robing that have been worn by the legal profession since the 19th century.
These include the ceremonial garments of the infamous Lord Lucan-accused of murder in 1973.
Among the displays is a bowl and wine glass that was used as evidence in the 1963 Great Train Robbery.
Also, for those members who might prefer something a litt
le more ki
nky....(and I think you know who you are!!!) You can also find here the largest collection of handcuffs and leg-irons in Britain.
There is a snack shop and a great little gift shop....and again, for those of you who I know are dying to ask, Yes! they do sell handcuffs...lol.
Access for wheelchairs is very good,with easy access available in 90% of the experience. The toilets are clean and tidy and more importantly....very easy to find.
There are lifts to all levels and disabled toilets are easy to locate.
There are baby changing facilities as well. For those of you that are really into law the museum has an extensive working library where not only can you have the opportunity to explore the history of law, but you also get the unique opportunity of using both contemporary and original documents dating from as far back as 1500.
I know what you are thinking, this is too much to fit into one day, you are right, but the powers that be have thought of this.....prison or police exhibit.....vist one, comeback and visit the other at some point in the year with the same ticket.
£5.25 Kids...(4 - 14 )
£19.95.....for that all important Family ticket.
Tuesday - Sunday and also Bank Holidays = 10.00....til....5.00
>( They are closed 24th/28th December and 31st/1st inclusive.
How to get there
Just follow the brown and white signs when you hit Nottingham, this place is very well signposted.
There are many multi storey car parks nearby and the Galleries are just a 10 minute walk from the Train station.
All in all I found this a great experience. Great value for money.
The Galleries of Justice offers a realistic insight into the justice and injustice - the guilty
and the innocent.
This great day out will take you on an atmospheric journey you may never forget. I would say this is a day out for all the family, but toddlers may get a bit bored after a while.
Take a look....I think you will like it.
UPDATE..........The Galleries of justice won the 2003 new museum of the year award.
Also, for all of you Most Haunted fans out there....Yes this was the place they visited recently.......Spooky!!!
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