J is for Judge's Lodgings

Published April 13, 2011

At last! The return of my alphabet adventures! I struggled with where to go for J, and then winter appeared, and then I quit my job and things got manic. However, it’s been a beautiful week and I’ve finally found some free time, so I decided to man up and go outside.

The Judge’s Lodgings is a museum situated in a tiny village on the England/Wales border, and it would never have crossed my attention except for one tiny thing. The website is so encouraging and open, I thought I had to give it a look.

An historic house with a difference, our total ‘hands-on’ policy allows you to actually sit in the judge’s chair, study his books, even pump water in the kitchen (although we would rather you did not use the commodes!).

When I got there, the door was open, and a sign sitting on the inside said something along the lines of: “We’re just keeping the warmth in, but we are open, try the handle.” So I opened the nearest door and the journey inside the Judge’s Lodgings began.

Judge’s Lodgings

From the front-facing courtroom, you then go behind the scenes into the house. On the ground floor, there’s a sitting room and a dining room, all laid out. You can touch pretty much everything, and it’s all very beautiful.

Judge’s Lodgings

Upstairs, you’ve got bedrooms, and bathrooms, and a peek at how the Judge would have spent his days. It felt very much like a man’s house, with little in the way of women’s touches. From shaving brushes, to waistcoats strewn around the bedroom, it was all about the judge. As you would expect, it being his lodgings.

Judge’s Lodgings

The only sign of anyone other than a fully grown and very serious man being in the house was a small toy that was sitting on a bureau at the top of the stairs.

You do get a feeling of how, perhaps primitive is the word, life was. The bathrooms, in particular, where there are no taps and no toothbrush. However, downstairs is where the real scale of history comes alive. The kitchens were brilliant!

Judge’s Lodgings

A few more rooms filled with knick-knacks and glimpses into the past, and then you go down some more to the holding cells. They were pretty grim and dark, so I didn’t stay there too long. Up some stairs of doom and you’re back into the courtroom, only this time on the side where the accused would be.

Thankfully, you can just walk out to freedom. Which I did. On the way out, I spotted the “try the handle” sign on the front door, whereas before it had been laying on a counter in the hall. As I was walking away, it occurred to me that I hadn’t paid anyone and had just enjoyed a free trip around the Judge’s Lodgings! Oops.

All in all, it was a fascinating day. I found it quite strange, as though I was snooping around someone’s house. Which I was, in a way, but it was particularly bad because there was no one else around. I felt a bit like a detective, but mostly like a nosey person!

I really applaud the “hands-on” approach they have, though. In some cases, we do need to be precious about history, but when there are opportunities like this to get really up close and personal, it makes a lot of difference.

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