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Shire Hall's Secret Past Revealed Tonight In Dorchester

Crown Court (9)

9:13am 2nd October 2014

The history of Dorchester's famous Shire Hall is being laid bare tonight.

Historical expert Dr Jo Cox is giving a special talk after spending the last 20 years uncovering the Shire Hall's secrets and forgotten past.

Dr Cox told Wessex FM; "It was very theatrical. The prisoners came up from dark cells into the dock and stood facing the judge, who was sitting with a burst of light behind him looking down on them. There was a lot of banter and wisecracking between the Bench and the court, it was like a theatre in many respects."

She's also discovered the court's presence was a major factor in Dorchester's development as the county town.

Poet and author Thomas Hardy sat on the bench as a magistrate.

The building is also due to be transformed into a £2.9M tourist centre.

Tonight's event starts at 7pm, its free entry and there's no need to book in advance.

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