Originally published September 2006
‘Over the centuries, thousands of people have entered the building with a sense of dread for their future – as many would have been Imprisoned, and sometimes, even publicly executed on the gallows of the front steps…..’Quote from display board
The Galleries of Justice are located in the historic quarter-mile square area of Nottingham known as the Lace Market which was once the heart of the world lace making industry, with its impressive examples of industrial architecture of the 18th century many buildings display the extravagant Gothic style that was so popular in Victorian times. Numerous shops, banks, fine houses and churches in the area are enriched by turrets, gargoyles, Tudor beams and fine green glazed facades. The information plaques at the entrance tell us that it was never a market in the sense of having stalls, but salesrooms and warehouses for storing, displaying and marketing the lace.
Anglo Saxon ‘Snotingham’ grew before 600AD and at some point was captured by raiding Danes before being retaken and the area around the Lace Market fortified into a stronghold by the Saxons. Later, a Norman motte and bailey castle and its stone replacements were built a year after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and are found to the south west of the city centre. The Galleries are located in the old law courts and County Gaol – or County Goal as the stonemasons originally chiseled it, a mistake which is still visible today. The Galleries were in use as courts and prisons from the 1780s to the 1980s, although there has been a court on the site since at least 1375 and a prison since 1449. The size of the building is deceptive as much is located below ground and would most certainly have been the harshest of environments to have been imprisoned.
Like much of Nottingham, the Galleries of Justice have been regenerated and they are now a tourist attraction.
Areas such as where we stayed near the Trent University, have a distinctly cosmopolitan feel with pavement cafés, car free roads and excellent modern tramway system.
We had an enthusiastic group of twenty six guests for this investigation, equally enthusiastically lead by Steven Brown, Richard, Sam and Maria
Our host for the evening was Richard, a very affable and informative ex miner who has been working at the Galleries since their inception as a tourist attraction and was the first to explore the tunnels after years of being bricked up.
The evening followed the usual format and on this occasion the warm up workshop was on the subject of psychometry.
Formalities over, we had the lit walk around with Marlene and as usual several people were found to be particularly intuitive to the surroundings, provided additional information and reported emotions that they felt in certain areas such as trepidation in the courtroom.
Everyone must be congratulated for fully joining in with the vigils and no one was afraid to express what they felt or experienced which helped each vigil pass remarkably quickly.
The party then carried out investigations in four groups after a break for refreshment as the time approached 11.30pm. Some of the following was notable:
During our first vigil with Marlene in the washroom some remarkably clear EVP (electronic voice phenomena) was picked up on Marlene’s recorder. The name of ‘Elizabeth’ was picked up and shortly after “Martin……. Martin….. I give you my name…..” appeared on the playback of the recording.
Interestingly the PT recorder refused to operate at all during this period although the LED was illuminated and worked perfectly when we returned to the Jury Room after the vigil!
No audible voice was noted in the room and only appeared on the recording which has now being passed to Jamie of PT, who is a professional sound engineer and musician, for further analysis.
The name Elizabeth was also picked up independently by another group during the night and is known to relate to the women’s cells. Of course we must recognize that the EVP may not relate to anyone associated to the sites history, but could be a ‘drop in’ or have an interest in one of the vigil participants.
One of the guests, Lara, picked up the names Joseph and Jack in the court room and these names were later found in one of the books on the courtroom table relating to the granting of licenses to public houses. Interestingly, it seems that Lara used to live in a pub.
In the gallows cell we all experienced headaches, nausea and spinning sensations which were very unpleasant. Someone (sorry, missed your name) also picked up automatic writing which will be included on the PT report.
Marlene provided a significant amount of prior information on this investigation and our thanks go to Richard from the Galleries for providing confirmation for so much of it. On-line research has also turned up some interesting facts. The confirmation is provided in italic.
We must reiterate that neither Marlene or the writer carry out any research prior to the investigation.
Posted on the PT website on August the 24th
‘I’m looking forward to September because I am already getting pictures in my head which I think are linked to the location – I feel as if I am meant to go to this place – is it one I should have gone to before? (Correct) There is certainly history linked and a sense of justice being done – some fair, some unfair/cruel and I keep seeing lots of wood in this building. (Correct) It is also a bit Tardis-like as I feel it is bigger on the inside that it looks on the outside. It is either set in amongst other buildings (as in a terrace) or it is a section of a bigger building that we will be investigating. (Correct) John is linked – a figure to be feared. Some sort of authority with him and I sense he had long sideburns as I can feel them on my face – quite a severe figure!’
August 8th whilst stuck in traffic on M25.
Arches / arched window(s) on or near the property.
It is an architectural theme throughout the upper building.
‘Billy – young boy – stole a loaf of bread.
The fact that starving children were often punished or, in some cases, transported for stealing food is often given by Richard as an example of the harsh justice system of the time.
Still keep seeing a cruel man. (Want to call him ‘Judge Dread’ because that is how he makes me feel) He is putting something black on his head and I know he is sentencing someone to death.
Obviously this would have occurred many times in the Court.
A gallows on or near the property.
Gallows originally stood on the front steps. Reproduction gallows also stand in the rear exercise yard. (A wood block engraving can be found at http://www.thorotonsociety.org.uk/gateway/themes/riot/riotp7.htm)
Feel all or part of this place is a museum.
The Galleries are situated between two churches, although this may have been a symbol to the fact that a small chapel is cut into the sandstone below the building.
Footpads were the same as highwaymen but instead of being on a horse, footpads were on foot. The disadvantage of being on foot was that it was hard to keep up with a moving carriage if they try to escape.
Tardis like property – its frontage looks small compared to the inside – feel its depth is even bigger than its width.
‘It is indeed much higher and deeper.’
Some sort of viewing gallery or upstairs walkway that looks down on the main (room)/ and height.
Most important part of the building is Victorian.
John… Joo… / Jor (Name sound)
‘Picked up by other mediums who have visited the site.’
The name Daniel links with this site or this road. Surnames Finch and Pitcher also link. Prostitution also links, ordinary women also ‘bought’ their freedom (or the freedom of others) in this way. Frequently they were double crossed.
Daniel Dingle was one of those responsible for burning Nottingham’s looms during the Luddite revolution and sentenced to deportation to Australia. In 1812 Parliament passed legislation turning frame breaking into a capital offence. (www.thorotonsociety.org.uk) Finch (?) Pitcher & Piano is a restaurant next door. The Galleries backed onto slum quarters where prostitutes were often bought for wealthy prisoners.
It was a place of Transportation, originally to America, but in later years Australia. Brass plaques adjacent to the entrance of the Galleries commemorate the opening of parts of the new exhibition by the Australian High Commissioner of the time.
A cut throat.
A man was condemned to death for slitting the throat of his wife and three children. (The plaque says two, but it was actually three)
1735 and 1894 have significance, also a fire.
Fire did gut the main courtroom.
A cruel place to be – not just a place of justice, but almost feel as if some sort of torture / torment is here too.
A terrible place to be.
The Galleries of Justice are hardly the sort of place you would choose for a holiday, in their hey day justice of a kind we find barbaric today was administered, particularly to those who were poor and unable to properly provide for or defend themselves. However, it provided us with another fascinating investigation, and one that leaves us looking forward to the next in Plymouth.
Further information about the history of Nottingham can be found at: http://www.nottshistory.org.uk
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