Skip to main content

Recently Form 8 visited Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum in Dorchester. This enabled the pupils to increase their understanding of how past events have shaped our local community.

The main focus was in relation to the cases of Harry Parker and Silvester Wilkins. The pupils looked at what happened to these children through the investigation of primary evidence, allowing them to discover any crimes that had been committed, the ordeal these individuals went through after they were arrested and the subsequent trial they both endured. A tour of the cells and court added further to the children’s understanding.

Form 8 entered the public gallery in the main court room and Lydia had an opportunity to be the judge overseeing the trial of a prisoner. Kevin, one of the volunteers, played the part of the prisoner!

Teams worked on evidence related to Harry Parker and Silvester Wilkins. These were two local boys who were tried at different times for a similar crime of arson. It was shocking to see the differences in the ways both boys were treated: Harry was executed for this crime, whereas, Silvester was sent to a reformatory school and went on to have a family and job later on in his life.

There are individual cells for arriving prisoners and they would have been in silence and kept in complete darkness. Obviously the children had to test them out with all of Form 8 in the ‘holding cell’. They were then led up to the docks in the court room.

We are very fortunate to have this fantastic museum on our doorstep. If you have not visited it yet, do schedule a trip as it is so interesting to go back in time and really experience some local history.

Sarah Smith

Author Sarah Smith

More posts by Sarah Smith