Sessions use authentic historical stories and ones from familiar fictional texts in a variety of creative and thought-provoking activities. Students use the cells and the courtroom as well as our dedicated Learning space, to meet a number of cross-curricular requirements.
All sessions include:
- Interrogating & interpreting primary sources and objects to uncover original case study stories of real people which develop historical enquiry skills.
- Interactive accompanied guided tours of Shire Hall including the courtroom & cells linked to our case studies and topics.
And a choice of hands-on active learning activities from:
- Courtroom scripted activities and mock trials using original primary source case studies, fiction texts or traditional tales.
- Hands-on activities linked to all our topics including object handling; games; trails and traditional activities.
- Creative activities including peg doll making, creating portraits in a range of medium; printing & traditional crafts
Our sessions include…
Choose a story from our archives:
Harry Parker aged 7 years, who was tried at Shire Hall in 1873. Look at Harry’s story, what life was like for him and what it can tell us about crime and punishment and Victorian times.
Elijah Upjohn who appeared in court age 11 years, and again at 15 years old, when he was sentenced to be transported to Australia. Find out about crime and punishment and what life was like in Dorset and Australia in Victorian times.
Life in Victorian Dorset: Rich & Poor
Uncover what life was like for the people of Dorset in Victorian times. Follow the stories of the richest and poorest families and find out what their lives were like at home, at school and at work.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs
Find out about Dorset’s most famous court case. Uncover the story of the 6 farm workers who were put on trial in 1834 for working together to make wages and life better for everyone. Follow their journey to the other side of the world and back.
Smugglers & Smuggling
Follow the true stories of the smugglers of Dorset as they bring in their smuggled goods and give the slip to the Customs Men! Uncover what they did and how they did it.
Crime & Punishment through time
Find out how crime and punishment changed over time and how our laws developed. Includes Romans, Saxon, Medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian crime and punishment. Choose a chronology or focus on one or more time periods.
Local History studies
Discover the cases of real people in the courtroom at Shire Hall in the 1800s who were from your area. What did they do and what happened to them? What was life like for them? Can also include The 1613 Great Fire of Dorchester.
Shire Hall Detectives: How do we find out about the past?
What are sources of evidence and how can we use them to find out about the past? Using a range of archaeology, objects, documents, photographs and other primary sources, develops historical enquiry skills and questioning using real life stories.
A Victorian Christmas
Celebrate Christmas at Shire Hall with seasonal craft activities including making traditional Christmas decorations and a Victorian Christmas card with nib pen and ink writing. Follow the Twelve Days of Christmas tour and enjoy a traditional Christmas story around the Christmas tree.
Dorset and the world
Uncover Dorset’s global connections in the 18th and 19th centuries using stories from Shire Hall’s past.
English & Creative Literacy
Use our building and case studies to explore literature and creative literacy.
- Traditional Tales on Trial
- Texts in the courtroom e.g. Wind in the Willows
- Poetry, including Smugglers Song
- The Highwayman
- Creative literacy responses
Use our building and case studies to explore art and design; drama and performing arts.
We can create bespoke sessions linked to your own topics and teaching and learning objectives.