Of course I’m in little old Australia, not Cornwall. But being a criminal lawyer, and a history buff, this Victorian era courtroom experience is definitely on my ‘To Do’ list should I find myself in that part of the UK.
Given I haven’t personally experienced the criminal trial re-enactment, I share information & comments from the renowned ‘Visit Cornwall’ site & people who have been there, done that.
Makes me ask why hasn’t something similar been done with respect to the old Adelaide Gaol in Adelaide or Redruth Gaol at Burra? Redruth, erected in 1856, was the first gaol in South Australia outside of Adelaide. It is on the National Trust.
And we all know Breaker Morant was filmed there.
Redruth Gaol erected at a cost of £3200 was closed in 1894 and the prisoners transferred to Gladstone Gaol. In 1897, the Gaol was restored and reopened as a girls reformatory but closed in 1922.The Gaol is famous for the filming of the 1979 movie Breaker Morant.
Both links above (Adelaide & Redruth gaols) give you a ton of information should you be in South Australia anytime & feel the urge to experience some down-home Australian criminal & penal history.
Alas, I digress. Getting back to the Courtroom Experience at Bodmin via Visit Cornwall
Do you love a good murder mystery?
Always fancied doing jury service?
Want to experience Victorian Cornish History?
Then visit the Courtroom Experience, an award winning visitor attraction at the heart of Cornwall.
The Courtroom Experience is an interactive, guided tour of the original country courts of Cornwall. The experience is led by one of our knowledgeable Courtroom Ushers who will be your tour guide and will meet you in the foyer to take you through the experience.
The tour begins with a short talk giving you some information about the building and some background to the story of Matthew Weeks and Charlotte Dymond.
Then the usher will take you into the original courtroom where you will be invited to take a seat. Here the usher will introduce you to the characters in the courtroom and give some snippets of information to think about during the trial. The trial then begins and is a mixture of lights, film and animatronics and the case of Matthew Weeks is told.
Towards the end of the trial you are asked to vote, based on what you have seen, whether you think that Matthew was guilty or not guilty of the crime. The trial culminates with the historical outcome of the trial.
The usher finally takes you down to the original holding cells where you can stand inside on the tiny, gloomy cells.
The whole experience takes about one hour.
Worth doing if you have a spare hour! (via Trip Advisor)
Really interesting experience, the case that is presented by the courtroom experience is a real life murder that happened in the 1800s, and there is lots of speculation about what actually happened.
The building it’s set in is the actual building the court case happened in over 200 years ago and has lots of interesting historical features.
I felt the people involved in the case could be explained better (maybe with a leaflet or something, I kept losing track) but overall was a really fascinating and educational experience!!! Definitely worth a visit if you want to do something a bit different.
Reliving history where it happened (via trip Advisor)
Once upon a time, true justice was not available to those who are helpless. During the 19th century, one can be accused of a crime and found guilty because forensic evidence was unavailable then.
In Bodmin, a young man named Matthew Weeks was found guilty of murder and hanged without hard evidence. This case led to the eventual abolition of capital punishment.
At Bodmin’s Shire Hall, visitors can relive the Courtroom Experience and even be a juror in the Matthew Weeks case, deciding whether he was guilty or not after hearing the deliberations in a trial involving film reels and animatronics.
Interesting and eye-opening, you get to relive history right where it happened, and end your tour with a visit to the holding cells where prisoners were kept while waiting for their case to be heard. Not pleasant for them, to be sure, and it makes one glad one is living in this more enlightened era and not back then.
We saw this having already visited Bodmin Gaol. Being a Prison Officer and former Policeman it was of great interest.
It was so interesting to see the original court layout and hear part of the case dramatized by way of the anamatronic figures and visual display and by having a good working knowledge of the land and also the gaol Matthew would have met his end in really helped. The way you can interact with the exhibit by way of interactive voting on the verdict also helps you emerge yourself in the case.
The staff were very knowledgeable and I can guarantee at the end of the experience you will want investigate it more. There gift shop has a great little book on the case by Pat Munn which was very reasonable priced and also a map of the scene which can be purchased for 50p.
I won’t tell you my view on the case I let you decided that foe yourself once you have visited. Well worth the money in fact in would have paid more. Also don’t miss the town museum which is free entrance.