The Judge’s Lodging, Shire Hall, Broad Street, Presteigne, Powys, LD8 2AD

Saturday 12 June 2021

9pm to 2am

Join Paranormal Friends as we return investigate again at The Judge’s Lodging, in the historic Welsh border town of Presteigne. It is the former Shire Hall for the County of Radnor.

We had plenty of unexplained activity on our February 2020 visit, not least the trigger ball under our table flashing, on request, not once but 6 or 7 times. It was on a stone flagged floor so no chance of interference.

Unexplained voices, footsteps and more; we just have to go back as we’ve had so many requests.

Investigating here is truly like stepping back in time because the entire location is full of period furniture and effects, very many of them being original to the building. It also has oil lamps and period gas lighting throughout.

We will have access to the full suite of 14 period rooms of the building, including the judge’s apartments, servants’ workrooms, two holding cells and the vast courtroom itself.

The previous building on the site was the county gaol; a grim affair according to surviving accounts. It was demolished to make way for the grand building we see today.

It was opened as a court and judge’s residence in 1826, seeing cases of all types from throughout the county. It continued to operate as a court for 150 years.

On our initial pre-investigation walk around, Adam, our Medium was very affected by Spirit activity. So much so that he almost had to leave the building at one point as he was becoming overwhelmed and the pressure on his head was more than he has ever experienced. He felt as though all of the many Spirits of this ancient site wanted to communicate with him at once – it was a worrying sight to see for Chris, our founder!

Presteigne is only just over the border into Wales and is easily accessible from Craven Arms and Ludlow for example. If you want to stay over the trust runs the town’s tourist information centre and can help guests find accommodation, pre-investigation meals or other requirements.

If you want to find out more about this wonderful border counties location, what better than to visit the trust’s own website by clicking here 

A little more of the background to this wonderful location in which you really will feel you are stepping back in time…

It all started with a murder…

The murder in Rhayader of one judge in the 1530s was to change the life of the tiny border town of Presteigne forever. Rhayader, chosen as the venue for the Court of King’s Great Sessions, was obviously not a safe enough place for eminent men to stay and in 1542 Presteign was chosen as an alternative. Its life as the legal seat of Radnorshire was set for more than 400 years and with it the development of Presteigne into Radnorshire’s county town.

By the early 1800s Presteigne was thriving in its legal and administrative role for the county. Not only did it host the Great Sessions (called Assizes after 1830) but also the Quarter sessions, where the Magistrates met to try minor offences and carry out their administrative duties.

There was a Shire Hall for the trials and hearings, a lodging house for the judges and a gaol. However, the old Shire Hall was on the brink of collapse – in 1828 a local contractor was even paid to prop up the Shire Hall for a parliamentary election! – causing a barrage of complaints from the magistrates. The judges had to be housed at the other end of the town from the court and the gaol was in such disrepair that it was hard for them to keep up with the number that escaped! Something had to be done. The gaol was demolished and a new one built on the edge of town – at least the villains were secure but what about the judges?

By 1825 the magistrates knew that matters had to be improved. They advertised in the local press for tenders to build a new Shire Hall, Court of Justice and Judge’s Lodging on the site of the old gaol and in 1826 Edward Haycock, an eminent architect from Shrewsbury, was chosen to carry out the work. Beset by financial worries, the magistrates originally ordered that only the shell of the judge’s apartments be built then, a further expense was caused by springs breaking through the ground of the apartments causing a new drainage system to be installed. It was not until 1829 that the lodging rooms themselves were furnished and the building declared finished.

Horses and pants get stolen

On the 24th August the new building housed its first Great Sessions, when a horse thief was sentenced to death (commuted to transportation for life) and a man who had stolen clothing from his employer was likewise sentenced to 14 years transportation. Many of the court cases were written up in the Hereford Times and Hereford Journal, including that of two Rhayader labourers who were arguing over the ownership of a pair of underpants which were apparently identified ‘due to their distinguishing marks’! The Radnorshire juries themselves won a reputation for a reluctance to convict, not surprising when they probably knew the people up before them. It is alleged that one judge, being driven to Knighton to catch his train, spotted a hare being hotly pursued by two greyhounds – ‘nothing but a Radnorshire jury can save that hare’ he cried. Whether or not the story is true, it does reflect the attitude towards the juries of the time! In 1834 a Quarter Sessions Jury was fined for tossing a coin to decided their verdict – the difficult decision being made impossible by one of them being the prisoner’s brother in law.

As the years progressed, a number of additional uses were found for this grand and commodious building: In 1834 it was decided that the judge’s apartments were to be rented out when the judge was not in residence – what a waste, they thought for such good rooms to be unused for all but a few weeks of the year! The 1860s saw temperance lectures, brass band concerts, use as the Officers’ Mess of the Radnor Militia in 1865 and in 1874 it hosted a fancy dress ball to celebrate the opening of the Presteigne railway.

Gas Lighting

Gas lighting was first introduced to the building in 1860, powered by the newly established gas works in Hereford Street. It was, however, fitted only in the basement, where the servants lived and worked – it was reported that ‘they should see how the thing worked first before incurring further expense’ i.e. they were testing it out on the servants! It was eventually fitted in the courtroom, but was apparently considered too down market for the judge’s apartments, leaving the judges to struggle down stairs by candlelight to the one toilet!

The aim is to use a combination of Spiritual and scientific methods of investigation and you are free to choose whether you take part in any, or all, as you wish.

These usually include; Victorian style Séances, Table tipping experiments, Glass divination, K2 Meters, Spirit/Ghost/Frank’s box, Rempods, Laser grid lights, sound enhancers, pendulum, human pendulum, divining rods, trigger objects, digital voice recorder, photography and of course, your own senses, the original investigation equipment!

Please feel free to bring your own investigation equipment if you wish.

We will not be able to provide our usual hot drinks and cold snacks in order to reduce the risks of contamination. However, as usual, guests are welcome to bring their own cold food and non-alcoholic drinks with them.

All participants should wear adequate warm clothing, stout footwear and provide their own torch.

The Judge’s Lodging, Shire Hall, Broad Street, Presteign, Powys, LD8 2AD

Saturday 12 June 2021

9pm to 2am (Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to start time)

Car parking: Nearby on street parking or, more likely, in the signed public car park.

Please note that there will be no heating on prior to or during our investigation so it is essential that you wear warm clothing and sensible shoes.

Please ensure that you have read and fully understand our booking terms and conditions, before purchasing tickets. They can be found by clicking this link.

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