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A Courtroom Drama

Posted on: 21st February 2015 By: Sue Davies

The image above shows the courtroom in the old town hall during the mid-19th century.  It was drawn by the St Albans based artist John Henry Buckingham (1800-1881) and these are caricatures of real people.   In the corner of his sketch Buckingham wrote “Councillor Charnock steeling the heart of the crabby old judge - in a dirty case contractors taking works under price and of their cheating those under their employ by getting surveyor to measure their work short by many yards…”

I saw the sketch for the first time yesterday when we were showing external experts some of the reserve collections at the Museum of St Albans.  Their visit was part of our preparations to develop a new museum and gallery in the town hall.  The courtroom is inside the old town hall so we were particularly interested to see a picture showing the building in use.  One of the things we need to do for the next stage of the Heritage Lottery Fund application is to show the significance of the heritage assets.  Yesterday’s visit reminded me how wonderful the Buckingham material is.   

The Museum of St Albans holds a collection of J. H. Buckingham’s sketchbooks and watercolours.  Some examples are visible on this website here.  You can also find images by searching the collection.

Felicity Hebditch wrote a lovely little book featuring some of J. H. Buckingham’s sketches called “A Window on Victorian St Albans”.  Copies are on sale at the Museum of St Albans and at Verulamium Museum at a very reasonable £2.


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