One of the oldest collection of law books in the UK are on display in the library.
Donated by the Mather Jackson family the oldest book in the collection dates back to 1696. Henry Mather Jackson was one of the circuit judges in the heyday of the Sessions House so it is appropriate that the library is named after him. His portrait hangs above the fireplace.
The library also holds original candle holders, inkwells and a slate clock all of which would have been kept in the Judge’s room.
The lights in the library were made by the blacksmith at Llangibby to match the Arts & Craft lights in the hallway.
The Court Room
A corridor runs around the exterior of the courtroom so that officials could contact the Judge easily in his room on the top corridor, and so that he did not come into contact with members of the public.
From the dock there is a passageway that leads through to the prison, and although still in existence, is now blocked at the far end.
There are a number of portraits of the circuit judges on the walls including Henry Mather Jackson, Samuel Richard Bosanquet, Samuel Bosanquet (his son) and Granville Somerset.
Several high profile trials were held in the Sessions House the most infamous being that of Lady Rhondda, caught trying to post a letter bomb on behalf of the suffragette movement, and the Llangibby murders when a Spanish sailor, Garcia, was convicted of killing a family of 5. It has been suggested that modern forensics would have cleared him of the crime.
The last hanging in Usk was in the early 1920’s.
The design of the courtroom is supposedly modelled on the Old Bailey. The benches are all marked with the professions of those who sat in them. On the jury benches reference is made only to Jurymen as women, at that time, were barred from jury service. The reporters’ benches are inscribed with graffiti presumably done during times of boredom. Members of the public were not allowed into the court but sat in the gallery which has a separate entrance from outside.