Court Out

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The main entrance to the former Court House in the county town of Antrim. A popular venue for markets and fairs since the first patent to do so was granted in 1605, inevitably there was a certain amount of disruption whenever these took place. Hence the citizens of Antrim felt the need to have a court house where miscreants could be tried and punished. In the early 18th century, the County Antrim Grand Jury granted £150 ‘towards building and carrying on a Session House in the town of Antrim in and for said county.’ Dating from 1726, the court house is of two storeys, that on the lower level originally having an open arcade where mercantile activity could take place even while justice was being administered upstair. By 1836, the ground floor had been converted into an enclosed yard
for prisoners attending trial and for confining drunkards
and rioters. The building continued to serve as a courthouse until 1994 since when it has been extensively restored by the local authority. Commendable work, although one must regret the installation of such commonplace light fittings and metal grills.

4 comments on “Court Out

  1. mark Donnelly says:

    Beautiful doorcase. I agree with you, the ‘guide you to an exit’ lights are carbuncles on such a nice building.

    • Thank you Mark. Yes, the problem with the interventions is that they distract from the success of the original design and make the exterior more dreary than deserves to be the case. Whoever was responsible needs to be sent to a basic class on good aesthetics…

  2. Brendan McConville says:

    Too bad, since they were in a restoration mode, they did not recreate the open arcade – I’m sure such a unique feature would be a real attraction on fair days, etc.

    • ‘Tis true. On the other hand, since the arcade was enclosed in the 19th century one could, and probably does, argue that the present state has been an integral part of the building for the greater part of its history. Such are the debates that always take place during restoration programmes…

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