Explore the fascinating world of the Victorian judges at this award-winning historic house.
Step into the 1870s at the award-winning Judge's Lodging and discover the world of a most unusual household.
Explore the 'upstairs, downstairs' life of theVictorian Judges, their servants and felonious guests.
What an exciting time we've had recently...
HRH Prince of Wales toured our building in January (photos here) and then we won Best Hidden Gem in the Hudson's Heritage Awards 2014. Do come and see what all the fuss is about!
Once called ‘the most commodious and elegant apartments for a judge in all England and Wales' (Lord Chief Justice Campbell, 1855), decay beckoned Radnorshire's disused Shire Hall into obscurity. Now, aided by an interior hardly touched by time and original furnishings discarded in attics, extensive research and restoration has re-awakened this ‘Victorian fossil'.
From the stunningly restored judge's apartments to the dingy servants' quarters below you can explore their gaslit world. Damp cells remind you of the building's true purpose, along with the vast courtroom where your imagination in captured by the echoing trial of William Morgan, local duck thief.
Visitors to the building are accompanied by an eavesdropping audiotour of voices from the past; you will hear their tale, from Mary the hardworking maid, to Reverend Richard Lister Venables, Chairman of the Magistrates and employer of the famous diarist Francis Kilvert, portrayed by actor Robert Hardy.
You can hear excerpts from our fabulous character audiotour, including Robert Hardy, along with an interview with Historical Consultant, Dr Charles Kightly here (this will open in the Media Player you use).
• Click here to take a quick tour of some of the fascinating rooms.
An historic house with a difference, our total ‘hands-on' policy allows you to actually sit in the judge's chair, study his books, even pump water in the kitchen (although we would rather you did not use the commodes!).
We hope you like our website. It doesn't finish here! We already have some ideas for new things to be added as soon as we can, such as: a Curator's Choice section of some of our favourite objects, online exhibitions, plus loads more recipes, handy hints and games. If you can think of anything you would like to see here, let us know and we will see what we can do.
Find out more about our exciting Presteigne Community Collections Project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Site photography: Judge's Lodging staff, Phil Lane of Borderphoto, Alex Ramsay