A new life for the Shire Hall
By the early 1800s Presteigne was thriving, having the status of county town as well as its long established legal role. It housed the Great Sessions (called Assizes after 1830) and the Quarter Sessions, where magistrates met to try minor offences and to carry out administrative duties similar to those of a modern County Council. (Examples of Quarter Sessions cases from various dates can be seen on the Crime and Punishment and Care of the Poor sections of this website).
|There was a Shire Hall
for the trials and hearings, a lodging house for the Judges, and a gaol.
Both the old Shire Hall and the gaol, however, were in a very poor state
of repair. The state of the Shire Hall gave rise to many complaints from
the magistrates, and many prisoners managed to escape from the insecure
The prison was the first building to be replaced, with a new building on the edge of the town. A new Shire Hall, Court of Justice and accommodation for the Judges was ordered in 1825, to be built on the site of the old gaol in Broad Street, Presteigne.
|The new building pictured on this page was not fully completed
and furnished until 1829. The first case of the Great Sessions in its new
surroundings took place on 24 August 1829, when a horse thief was sentenced
to death, though this was later to be reduced to transportation for life.
Radnorshire juries gained a reputation around this time for being reluctant to convict, not least because they often knew the people who were being tried. In 1834 a Quarter Sessions jury at Presteigne was fined for tossing a coin to decide upon a verdict !
Visit the new Judge's Lodging website at
|There are 3 pages on the Judge's Lodging. Use the box links below to view the other pages.