Historic court house opens its doors

PUBLISHED: 12:53 07 December 2006 | UPDATED: 13:39 04 May 2010

ALL RISE! Some of the Ely magistrates and court officials at the open day.    
Photo: HELEN DRAKE

ALL RISE! Some of the Ely magistrates and court officials at the open day. Photo: HELEN DRAKE

ELY S Magistrates Court opened its doors to the public on Saturday giving people the chance to see behind the scenes. More than 360 visitors joined guided tours throughout the day, sitting in the solicitors seats, visiting the public gallery, press benc

ELY'S Magistrates' Court opened its doors to the public on Saturday giving people the chance to see behind the scenes.

More than 360 visitors joined guided tours throughout the day, sitting in the solicitors' seats, visiting the public gallery, press bench, chairman's seat and even getting locked in the old cells.

The interview room with its barred windows and furniture screwed to the floor also fascinated visitors, who came from as far afield as Somerset, Hampshire and even America to visit the historic court house, which dates back to 1820.

Magistrates were on-hand to explain how the legal process works and children enjoyed making key rings containing their fingerprints.

Literature and DVDs were available, giving visitors advice on how to become magistrates.

Chairman of the Magistrates, Janet South, said: "I was delighted that so many people took the rare opportunity to visit the Ely courthouse to find out how the judicial system is administered. We have local justice for local people by local people.

"Visitors were also very interested in seeing our magnificent building and learning some of its history. Many people remarked that previously it was just a building one normally passes. They were not aware they could sit in the public areas and watch the court process on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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