Shire Hall

Taste of Monmouthshire will be held at Shire Hall, in Agincourt Square. This grade 1 listed building is located in the town centre of Monmouth.

For for more information on location and parking, please see visitor information

History

Shire Hall, Monmouth

Erected in 1724, the Shire Hall, Monmouth was designed to house two “Courts of Judicature” and a room for the Grand Jury at Assizes and Sessions. The architecture of the Shire Hall was very loosely in the popular style of the day – Baroque – and thought to be by Philip Fisher of Bristol.

The present building was built on or close to the site of two previous buildings. The original building, built in 1536, was a small court but this was replaced in 1571 by a typically Elizabethan building with a timber framework.

The most notable event to take place at the Shire Hall was, following the Newport riots in 1839, the trial in 1840 of the chartist John Frost, who along with Zephaniah Williams and William Jones was convicted of High treason and sentenced to be “hanged until dead and quartered”. History has it that a Monmouth doctor offered to do the quartering.

Frost was deported to Tasmania (Van Dieman’s Land), given a provisional pardon in 1854, fully pardoned in 1856 and returned to England where he died in Bristol in 1877 at the age of 93. The trial of Frost and his 14 other co defendants took but a matter of a few weeks (starting on New Years Eve with sentences past on the 16th January) and attracted the most senior judiciary in the form of the Lord Chief Justice and was clearly highly political.

The jury took less than an hour to reach a guilty verdict. The cost of the trial was seventeen hundred and forty four pounds, which included one hundred and twelve pounds for London policemen.

After the County Court closed in 2002, Monmouthshire County Council applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for resources, and secured a grant of £3.2 million towards the building’s complete refurbishment, with further funding of over £1 million provided by the County Council.

Renovation started in late 2008, and the restored building was opened in September 2010. Among the areas open to visitors is the courtroom in which the trial of Frost and others took place in 1840. A key element of the refurbishment was the installation of a lift, which makes the whole building accessible for all.

The building now contains a Tourist Information Centre and offices, it is open to the public seven days a week from 10am – 4pm from April to September and is closed on Sundays in winter.