Pubs are used for all kinds of activities these days — book groups, fine dining, quizzes…sometimes even for drinking. But in Georgian times, the pub was also a linchpin of the criminal justice system. Many an unusual court case played out in the back-room of a drinking den.
London Historians and the University of Hertfordshire have joined forces to bring these trials back to life. A pair of events later this month will re-enact peculiar real-life cases. You are called to the bar, in more ways than one.
On 25 September, you can watch a typical Petty Sessions from the 18th century. “You will meet the bawdy street-walker Lizzy Shage, the charlatan fortune-teller William Powell – a notorious reoffender – and the swindled baker.” You will feel sorry for the judge, who has to keep things in order. And you’re encouraged to take part yourself, acting as a rowdy audience member in the tradition of the beer-sodden onlookers of the historical courts.
On 26 September, you can sit on the jury for a re-enactment of the trial of Eliza Fenning, charged with attempted murder and poised to hang if found guilty.
Both trials take place at The George on Strand, starting at 7pm. Tickets are £9.88 for London Historian members or £12.95 otherwise. Book here.
Here’s a video of performances from last year, to whet your appetite.