Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Leeds Town Hall Court Room

When first built Leeds Town Hall had four courtrooms. Only one survives now and it has been restored so we can see what it really looked like. It is very compact and as you can see from the photograph the accused stood ( in front of the bar at the bottom of the photograph) quite close to the witness ( stood in the small curved area on the right of the photograph). Also notice the lack of decoration in the wood, no carvings at all.

Leeds became an Assize town in 1864.

The Courts of Assize, or assizes, were periodic criminal courts held around England and Wales until 1972, when together with the Quarter Sessions they were abolished by the Courts Act 1971 and replaced by a single permanent Crown Court. The assizes heard the most serious cases, which were committed to it by the Quarter Sessions (local county courts held four times a year), while the more minor offences were dealt with summarily by Justices of the Peace in petty sessions (also known as Magistrates' Courts).

The word assize refers to the sittings or sessions (Old French assises) of the judges, known as "justices of assize", who were judges of the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice who travelled across the seven circuits of England and Wales on commissions of "oyer and terminer", setting up court and summoning juries at the various Assize Towns.

Trials took place here until 1992.

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