We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“About the free audio guide”

Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum
Ranked #1 of 37 things to do in Dorchester
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Shire Hall is a brand new Historic Courthouse Museum in Dorchester, Dorset. Discover the stories of people whose lives were changed, and in some cases ended, by their experiences in this building. Walk through the cells in the footsteps of the thousands of accused people waiting to discover their fate upstairs in the court. There are digital interactives, wigs, gowns and hats to try on, and lots of surprises to discover! This is a great day out for all the family.
Useful Information: Food available for purchase, Activities for young children, Lockers / storage, Activities for older children, Baby buggy parking, Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access, Stairs / lift
Reviewed 3 May 2018

A thoroughly enjoyable experience. Well worth a visit

A word to the wise: there is a free audio tour available, this gives the option of listening to four stories of people who have been processed through the court e.g. the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the last woman to be hanged in Dorset. The cells were common to all prisoners; it was the courtroom where the different stories were applicable. We wanted to hear all four cases, but were told that we would have to return to Reception to have our audio players reset. Fortunately, a helpful volunteer showed us how to do this, so we sat in the court and listened to all four cases. Reception should tell all visitors how to reset their audio guides.

Date of experience: May 2018
2  Thank bathexile
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a ReviewReviews (105)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
All reviews
"audio tour"
in 13 reviews
"court room"
in 9 reviews
"tolpuddle martyrs"
in 29 reviews
"holding cells"
in 4 reviews
"annual ticket"
in 4 reviews
"individual stories"
in 2 reviews
"national history"
in 2 reviews
"civil rights"
in 2 reviews
"cafe food"
in 2 reviews
"fun afternoon"
in 2 reviews
"short introduction"
in 2 reviews
"excellent attraction"
in 2 reviews
"history brought to life"
in 2 reviews
"tour takes"
in 2 reviews
"well worth a visit"
in 10 reviews
"fascinating insight"
in 4 reviews
"very helpful staff"
in 4 reviews

98 - 102 of 105 reviews

Reviewed 10 April 2018 via mobile

Museum opens May 1st
I am volunteering so have had sneak preview it will be amazing learn about the justice system follow cases stand in the dock visit the cells
Loads of interaction for children amazing graphics
The cafe and shop will be great
It will be well worth a visit

Date of experience: April 2018
3  Thank susane596
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 November 2015

Happened to be passing by and noticed that tours were available during the day. Called back later and were taken on a lovely tour round the cells and court. Our host was very informative and passionate about the building and history of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The cells were really atmospheric and walking from the cells into the court you got a an insight of how the prisoners felt when being brought up into the court to be judged. Can't wait for all the work to be finished and will certainly be back when its complete.

Date of experience: October 2015
4  Thank Robert R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 October 2015 via mobile

Just happened to notice the old court was open for a short time during half term.

This was an excellent guided tour to see what it was really like to be the accused nearly 200 years ago

A chance to see it before it is renovated.

My seven year old grandson was impressed if not a bit frightened by the cells.

Date of experience: October 2015
2  Thank Mervyn H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
See more reviews
Reviewed 17 August 2015

The tour was very interesting and brought everything to life. The child (9 year old) in our party enjoyed it too.

Date of experience: August 2015
2  Thank KP5859
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum also viewed


Been to Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing