The County Court House

The Court House 2008

1773AD - 1777AD

The old Grand Jury House was replaced in the 1770s by John Carr’s elegant Court House for the Assizes of the whole county.  Assizes were court sessions that were held periodically to deal with a the more serious of criminal cases.

The Female Prison which sits opposite and in many ways mirrors the court building was built soon after.  The buildings were positioned around a circular lawn which became known as the Eye of the Ridings, or the Eye of York.

In the 18th century the law could be severe.  Wives convicted of poisoning their husbands were not only hanged at the Tyburn gallows, but their bodies burned – the last recorded instance of this happening took place in 1776.  Horse stealers were also executed.

For lower level crime, the city constables had to bring the culprits to court who would face a fine, while the corporation employed a ‘common informer’, charged with bringing criminals to justice.