‘Justice in the balance’: a new courthouse museum at Dorset Shire Hall

Dorset Shire Hall. Image courtesy of Shire Hall historic courthouse museum.

In May 2018, Dorset’s Shire Hall in Dorchester reopened after a £2.9 million redevelopment as a new courthouse museum. Rose Wallis, Associate Director of the Regional History Centre, has worked on the project for two years as consultant historian and curator. Under the banner ‘justice in the balance’, the new museum promises to engage visitors with the history of crime, law, and punishment, and past and present efforts to achieve justice.

Charles Houlden Walker, 1776-1844, Attorney and Publicist

"John Lyes considers the career of an overlooked Bristol lawyer and finds him to have been a feisty and prolific criminal justice campaigner... Walker was also a regular writer of letters to the local press". Walker protested injustices wherever he could, whether they happened to him or others he saw it as his duty to try and make changes to the system.

A Malefactor Brought to Book

In 1821, John Horwood was charged with the murder of Eliza Balsam. The sentence followed an Act of Parliament which required the body of those convicted of murder be dissected and anatomised following the death sentence. In this article, John Lyes uncovers the curious and gruesome story of John Horwood’s body.