Victorian

  • NANTCLWYD HOUSE, RUTHIN, DENBIGHSHIRE, c.1891
  • THE JUDGE'S LODGING, PRESTEIGNE, POWYS, c.1860 and later

    One of our favourite--and we believe--most successful projects. The Judge's Lodging, also known as the Shire Hall, was built in 1826-9 in the small Welsh border town of Presteigne, then county town of the former county of Radnorshire. It served as a combination of Court Room, accommodation for visiting Judges, and county administrative centre.

    By the later 1970s it had lost all these functions, and when we were asked by Powys County Council to inspect it in 1995 it was in poor repair. But many of its original features survived (down to an 1854 calendar pasted to a cupboard door) and, crucially, many of its Victorian furnishings (down to cutlery, chamber pots and commodes) had been prudently squirrelled away in the attics by the last caretaker.

    Powys County Council accordingly made the bold decision to commission us to restore both the exterior and much of the interior to their appearance as in about 1860 (for which much documentary evidence also survived). This included lighting the recreated rooms entirely by oil lamps or 1860s 'open flame' gas lights. The magnificent 18-burner gasolier in the Courtroom is the only working example in Britain, if not the world.

    Under our direction, a team of local craftspeople, nearly all from within 30 miles of Presteigne, recreated where possible the original finishes of 22 rooms, including the Courtroom, holding cells, basement servant's quarters and service rooms, and the 'lodging rooms' including the Dining Room, Judge's Bedroom, Bathroom, Clerk's Room and Drawing Room. The original furnishings and fittings (including the working kitchen pump) were restored, and augmented by bought-in or loaned period fittings.

    Officially opened by the actor Robert Hardy in 1997, the Lodging has ever since been much visited and also widely used by schools. It has won many awards. Its uncompromisingly original appearance has likewise made it a favoured setting for television filming, notably Simon Schama's History of Britain, and recently the BBC's Food and Drink Christmas programme, with Lucy Worsley.

    In 2014, at his own special request, the Prince of Wales visited the Lodging.

    (Most images courtesy of Alex Ramsay and/or the Judge's Lodging)

    [From Richard Haslam, 'The Judge's Lodging', Country Life, September 9, 1999]

    'the Shire Hall and Judge's Lodging splendidly evoke the world of the late Georgian judiciary'

    'a highly successful re-instatement'

    'a new course was set, inspired by Dr.Charles Kightly, project director..'

    '...nowhere better represents the theatre of the law'.

     [From Alex Ramsay, 'House of Correction', World of Interiors, January 2012]

    '...restoration has done it justice--right down to the prison cells in the basement'

    'The Judge's Lodging is different for one simple reason: it smells right'

    'Under the direction of Dr.Kightly a large team of volunteers and craftsmen set to work'


    Winner: “Interpret Britain” Award 1998 and “Local Museum of the Year” 1999
    ‘Top Ten British Museums and Galleries’ Period Living Magazine Award 2004-5: Sandford Prize for Heritage Education, 2005 and 2010
    Hudson's Heritage Awards, 2011 (placed overall second among historic houses in Britain)
    Hudson's Heritage Awards: Winner, Britain's Best Hidden Gem, 2014

    For Powys County Council, 1995-7 

    The Judge's Lodging is open to visitors March-December:
    http://www.judgeslodging.org.uk/

  • BLAENAVON IRONWORKS, TORFAEN, SOUTH WALES COTTAGE 2 and COMPANY SHOP, 1841

THE JUDGE'S LODGING, PRESTEIGNE, POWYS, c.1860 and later

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