This is more than simply a castle tour experience. Of course there are airless and lightless cells and a dungeon without which no castle would be worthy of the name, but there are also two working courts. One court is the oldest still functioning court in the country, while the other is like no other court you have ever seen before. There are hundreds of coats of arms of kings and notables from several hundred years ago adorning the walls of the Shire Hall court.
In the old court you can see the two wrist clamps attached to the dock where they used to brand felons prior to starting their punishment. You see, they didn`t have photography in those days and so they had to have some other way of recognising wrong-`uns.
There is a thing called the Drop Room where they happily used to drop people through a trapdoor that could be seen from outside. You would think that hitting the ground after falling about 20 feet, would injure people before the days of Health & Safety, but even a couple of hundred years ago they had health and safety in mind. To prevent injury, they tied a noose round the neck and they died of stopping suddenly, rather than breaking legs or anything.
The guides are informative and friendly and are quite happy to answer `silly` questions. I would strongly suggest that you ring the castle before a visit. This way you will be sure of visiting at a time when the building has no courts sitting. it is a much better, more interesting and more awesome experience to see both courts and get the commentary.
There are many steps to climb in the tour and a steep climb up a hill to the castle entrance itself and so is not suitable for the physically disabled or very elderly.
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