During the winter months of 2019, the Judges’ Lodgings underwent some remodelling on the ground floor, with the installation of an internal glass porch to protect the entrance hall from the elements. This was good news to visitors and staff alike – the room stewards in particular no longer had to wear three layers of warmth under their period costumes.
With a more welcoming hall, the visit to the house begins in a new Welcome Gallery, giving some insight into the Judges’ Lodgings, its history and what to look out for as you go round this magnificent 17th century building.
This is an exciting initiative, now installed in what used to be the ticket and shop area. It has been beautifully set up, offering an overall history of the Judges’ Lodgings and the various elements of its development. There have always been links to Lancaster Castle, since Thomas Covell who built the Judges’ Lodgings, originally as his family home, was the Keeper of the Castle, and involved in the infamous trial of the Lancashire Witches held in the Castle in 1612.
All these links are highlighted along with the early use of the Judges’ Lodgings as an actual lodging house for the Assize Judges as they travelled round the various assize courts. The JL’s final incarnation as a museum and display centre for the history and furniture of the Gillows family concludes the Welcome Gallery and leads the visitor on, now fully prepared, into the rest of the house.
Restored Oil Painting
The oil painting of The Judges’ Lodgings in Lancaster dates from the early 19th century (artist unknown). It is on loan by Lancaster City Council to the Judges’ Lodgings Museum where it is currently displayed in the new Welcome Gallery. The funds required to conserve the painting and its frame were raised entirely by the Friends through their Christmas appeal of 2019. The removal of centuries of nicotine and other grime has revealed the beauty of this delightful artwork and piece of local history. Phillip Bourne who restored the painting talks about the conservation of this early 19th century painting on YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53_0THat6ps
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