Shire Hall in 2004. Now the home of The Galleries of Justice attraction. The facade of Shire Hall dates from 1770-2 and is by James Gandon; the building was extended and remodelled by T C Hine (1876-9).

He strongly condemned the proposal to have the county and town occupying the same building, or, as he puts it, having two halls in one building. He contended there would be difference between the town and county about the repairs, and that the town "would expect the county to do the whole though they use it twenty times for our once. And upon a difference, since what has been may be again, may not some of the Gentlemen of the County be fin'd upon an Indictment for Riot?"

He called attention to a difference then existing between the town and county in regard to the Trent Bridges. "The Corporation had lately set up a tollhouse there" (on Trent Bridge), "and unreasonably exacted a Toll on County people—though they themselves cannot get into their own Town without going over our Leen Bridge of 32 arches repaired by the several Hundreds of the County." He hoped the king and parliament would give the county leave to erect a toll-house and demand a pontage for the repairs of the Leen Bridge.

He complained that the corporation had undermined "our Hall and Gaol in the Narrow Marsh by cellars for their own use."

Finally, he resolved ne'er to go into the hall in the Market Place, that he may avoid all occasions of difference. He desired to live in amity with the townspeople of Nottingham as their most faithful humble servant.

The opposition of Sir Thomas Parkyns was ultimately successful.

On the 20th October, 1724 (six months later), another meeting was held at Rufford Inn, at which Sir Thomas Parkyns was present.

A representation was made that Mr. Julius Hutchinson had since the sessions on 24th April, 1724, "viewed the Old Hall and the house adjoining thereto belonging to the County and taken a survey of the same and he this day declared to the Court upon ye said view:—That he found the foundation walls and roofs belonging to ye said Hall firm and strong and that ye said Hall with ye said House and gardens are capable of being repaired and made useful and convenient with Grand Jury Rooms, Petty Jury Rooms &C. for Courts of Judicature and other ye County's business."

This representation was confirmed by Mr. Edward Becher, J.P., and "by the report of a skilful workman."

The court thereupon decided that the new hall should be on the old site, and an order was made to apply to parliament for an Act to carry out the work and raise the necessary money.

This was carried nemine contradicente, but nothing further was done.

Instead of rebuilding the hall, the county justices disputed the judge's power to impose the fine. Ultimately they were successful in this; but they spent halt as much money in their appeal to the Privy Council as the new hall would have cost.

The question of rebuilding was revived in 1767, when the justices at East Retford proceeded to examine the old records of the county relating to the repairing of the County Hall.

On the 27th October, 1768, twelve months afterwards, the gentlemen and freeholders of the county met at the Swan Inn at Mansfield, and resolved that it was necessary a new County Hall should be built, and they signed a petition to the next session of parliament for obtaining an Act of Parliament for that purpose. The Act of Parliament was obtained in the year 1769. It provided for the raising of a sum of £2,500.

Henry Sherbrook and William Coape Sherbrook, Esquires, were appointed to wait on the Corporation of Nottingham for their consent to the holding the assizes and the general quarter sessions for the county within the Town Hall during the time of rebuilding the said new intended County Hall. This consent was given.

On the 23rd April, 1770, the county quarter sessions were held at the Guildhall, Nottingham, and the justices continued to meet there until the 13th January, 1772, when they again met at the Shire Hall.

On the 13th July, 1770, it is recorded that Lord Chief Justice Wilmott, the judge on circuit, pursuant to the Act of Parliament, had desired the high sheriff (Urban Hall, Esquire) to procure leave for the erecting of a temporary court within St. Mary's Church, for holding the assizes, and leave for this purpose was ordered to be obtained from the diocese and from the vicar and churchwardens.

Whether the assizes were so held in the church is not recorded in the county records. But in the Nottingham Date Book, page 83, the following entry appears:—" 1770 July. The Assize trials for the County were heard in the Guildhall and the Exchange Room. Prisoners were tried in the former and the Cause list was disposed of in the latter." Probably, therefore, it was not found necessary to use the church.

The rebuilding of the Shire Hall began immediately after the Lent Assizes in 1770, and the present building came into existence. The inscription upon it is as follows:—

"This County Hall
was erected in the year MDCCLXX
and in the tenth year of the Reign
of His Majesty George the III
J. Gandon Archit.
The Builder was Mr. Joseph Pickford of Derby."

Sir Thomas Parkyns died in 1741, and, consequently, did not live to see the county justices firmly established in their new quarters on his favourite site.

Were he living now he would be gratified to find the Shire Hall still in the High Pavement, and the fine, unparalleled, and well adorned Market Place still unbuilt upon.

He might not approve of the present Shire Hall from an architectural point of view, and he would probably print further reasons why it should be pulled down and again rebuilt—of course, upon the same site— near St. Mary's Church, though now far away from the gaol. He would miss the lovely view from the windows over the pleasant flowery and fragrant meadows. He would probably be amazed to find that the city, as well as the county assizes, were held in the same courts at the same time, without any friction or "Riotting" between city and county people as the result thereof.

It is interesting to realise that the Shire Hall has occupied the same site for so many centuries. Fronting to one of the main streets in the town of Nottingham, along which in former days king and commoner necessarily must have passed when visiting Nottingham, it has been a conspicuous, though not, perhaps, a picturesque object. It has been the centre of the county from time immemorial, and the place of assembly, in Nottingham, of county people at sessions, assizes, and at elections.

Judges, whose names are familiar to lawyers and historians, have sat and administered justice there, and, until quite recent times, culprits were executed in front of the present entrance.

Its old associations, if nothing else, must appeal to us, who, like Mr. Hardcastle, admire everything that is old, and the historical incidents here mentioned will be of interest to many members of this society.