Courts & Judges

  • 19 Feb 2023
  • Crime and Legal
  • Back

For centuries, the Courts of Justice were held at the Town Hall, At Worcester, it was long been called the Guildhall. The original Hall was a timber-framed building with the body of the Hall open to the roof, with the Courts of Justice at opposite ends of the Hall, facing each other. Adjoining one of the Courts was the Gaoler's house, who was allowed to sell liquors to such of the prisoners as could afford to pay. The prison block was under the Hall, and was reserved for 'citizen' criminals, while the prison in the Foregate was assigned to 'Foreign' offenders.

The Assizes and Sessions were held at the Town Hall until 1622, when the court moved to Trinity Hall. After the re-building of the Town Hall (thereafter called the Guildhall), the courts resumed their work there. The Guildhall contained two courts, the north being the Crown Court, and the south being the Nisi Prius Court. Almost immediately, there was a disaster, for on March 27, 1725, a fierce wind blew down a stack of chimneys into the Nisi Prius Court while the Assize was sitting, and six people were killed and others injured. Both County and City courts were held there until the Shirehall was built in 1835.

In 1880, when alterations were being made to the Guildhall, the Court proceedings were held in the old warehouse in the Shambles, the site was later occupied by Pratley's China Shop but more recent times The Entertainer Toy Shop. The Justices strongly expressed disgust at the way it was fitted up for Court, and when work at the Guildhall was complete, the Court moved back to the Guildhall.

Scales of Justice