Working with Warwick University

Unlocking Warwick has been collaborating with the University of Warwick School of Law to bring Victorian justice to life by researching and re-enacting real cases heard in the Warwick Court House.

At the request of Dr. Jane Bryan from the university Law School, in May 2015 we combined with students and staff to re-create local cases from the mid-19th century. The photos below were taken in the Woods Scawen lecture theatre during the re-enactments.

Students in research room
Researching past court cases at the County Record Office in Priory Park, Warwick.

Unlocking Warwick’s Fran Godwin arranged for a group of law students to attend a special training day at the County Record Office in Priory Park, Warwick, to learn how to find and copy documents, such as witness statements and contemporary newspaper accounts of magistrates’ hearings and trials held in the Warwick courts.

The research can be used by the students in themed projects, such as the treatment of children in Victorian times, or the punishment regimes before the judicial system began to be reformed in the late 19th century. 

In May 2016, Unlocking Warwick’s volunteers returned to the university campus to perform their second drama based on cases heard in Warwick in 1851, with students and staff taking some of the parts. The re-enactment took place on the department’s Open Day when schoolchildren waiting to take their A-levels were looking around the School of Law. They seemed to enjoy the drama very much. Here are a few pictures of the production.

In the future we hope the law students will use the resources at the Record Office to help with their studies, and to enliven the subject by writing and staging their own reconstructions of British justice in the past.