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Crime and Legal Articles

Ancient Assize Records

Ancient Assize Records

The earliest documents of Assize in the London Records Offices are those of Worcestershire. They date back to 1221. Assizes a word meaning sitting or session, is but a variant of a term which has been applied to judicial systems in Scotland and a number of European countries. There were Assizes of civil jurisdiction....


Court Leets & Court Barons

Court Leets & Court Barons

The difference between a Court Leet and a Court Baron was that the Court Leet was a criminal court and a View of Frankpledge, the Court Baron was a court for trying civil actions. The Court Leet was a Court of Record, held once a year in every manor before the Steward of the Leet, who was judge.... 


Bredon Hill Court Leet

Bredon Hill Court Leet

Legal customs were retained for centuries. There were still people living in the 1870s who could remeber the Court Leet being held on Bredon Hill, on the flat space before the King and Queen stones.....


A View of Frankpledge

A View of Frankpledge

This is an ancient term used at Court Leets. that neighbours were bound for each others good conduct. Hallam says, 'every ten men in a village were answerable for each other, and if one of the committed an offence the other nine were bound to make reparation. It was security given be free-men'.


Feckenham Court Leet

Feckenham Court Leet

Ancient manorial customs continued in some places well into the present century. The Evesham Journal of December 1, 1928, reported on Feckenham Court Leet; 'According to the old custom, the jury assembled under the oak tree on the village green...


Ancient Courts on the Hill Top

Ancient Courts on the Hill Top

Way back in the very distant past, long before there was centralized legal administration, justice was administered upon hill tops, and in some places, ancient stones still stand to mark those special places, and surprisingly, legal customs continued there until comparatively recent times. Two such places are at the King and Queen Stones on Bredon Hill, and the Kifts Gate Stone near Chipping Campden.


Social Power & Authority

Social Power & Authority

Today, the state controls all aspects of the legal system, but in the past there were three distinct legal authorities which controlled rural life...


The County Gaol

The County Gaol

The County Gaol was built in 1813 in the style of a medieval castle, and because of this, the name of Salt Lane was changed to Castle Street. Mr. Sandy's was the architect, following the principals of John Howard. It contained 90 cells, and was enlarged in 1839 to give 80 extra cells. This was the time of great political agitation, when during the summer, the gaol was excessively crowded with Chartists from Dudley, with cells intended for one containing three.


The City Gaol

The City Gaol

Over the centuries, the City had many prisons. There was the gaol at the east end of St Nicholas Street, a Bridewell at the bottom of Cucken Street (Copenhagan Street) and below the gatehouse of the Foregate were cells which, for a long period, were used as a prison for strangers 


Social power and authority

Social power and authority

Today, the state controls all aspects of the legal system, but in the past there were three distinct legal authorities which controlled rural life. The Judges and the local Justices of the Peace administered the laws of the land; local legal rules and customs

Feckenham Court Leet

Feckenham Court Leet

Ancient manorial customs continued in some places well into the last century. The Evesham Journal of December 1, 1928, reported on Feckenham Court Leet: 'According to the old custom, the jury assembled under the oak tree on the Village Green, where the Steward