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Report - The Assize Courts - Devizes

ZSju

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#1
Wasnt really prepared for doing this as it was only by chance that we tried but here goes :)

Devizes Assize Courts
Originally the Assize court for Wiltshire was held in Salisbury, however in after a petition in 1834 Devizes managed to secure its own. In 1835 the Architect Thomas Wyatt (responsible for many churches in the area as well as the old Roundway Hospital, also situated in Devizes) was chosen to design and build an impressive neo-classical building that would be the new Assize Courts.

The building was well used right up until the abolition of the Assize court system in 1971. From '71 until '75 the Crown Court took over and used the building, then from '75 until '82 the Magistrates took over use of the court.

1982 was perhaps the deciding point for the building when a case of dry-rot caused to Magistrates to abandon it, although the dry-rot was cured the building would not be used again.

Several planning permissions were applied for with around 5 given the go ahead, most recently the conversion into 20 residential properties, however this has since expires and was refused when resubmitted.

This is where my knowledge goes a bit hazy as I cant really find any solid info but it seems like the Council were/are trying to compulsory purchase the property to give it back to the community in the form of a Theatre, Cafe and such.. anyway enough with the history and on to the pictures, I'm pretty new to this SLR thing so any advice or constructive-criticism is greatly appreciated :)

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Front Exterior

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Entrance hall with toilets either side

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The skylight in the entrance hall

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The only reasonably intact room left, probably probably an office of some sort

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Same room, these are the windows facing out to the front of the building

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One of the two court rooms

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View from the balcony in the previous picture

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Fire damage on the same balcony, room visable is the entrance hall

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Bit of a newspaper dated 1956

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The balcony in the second court room, inaccessible as stairs are damaged.

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Old boiler? in the basement

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Entrance to the holding cells

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One of the holding cells

Thanks, Ju
 

Bertie Bollockbrains

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#6
This place still accessible ?
Bit of a late reply, just seen this post

Short answer... no

Long answer... The Assize Courts have been standing unused right in the middle of my home town since the 1980s. By far the biggest eyesore in Devizes and being in a prime location, have no idea why it has been neglected for so long. Several owners have come and gone, many plans submitted and various planning permissions granted. At one point, there was talk of converting it to 18 flats. Anyways the current owners are based in the Bahamas (tax avoidance???) and as the place became more and more neglected, the council started talking about a compulsory purchase order. At the start of this year, the council reboarded the building, did a bit gardening in the grounds clearing away the vegetation, painted the exterior of the place where needed and did a bit of roof repairs. I understand that the bill was sent to the owners. Right now it's sealed up tight but likely to remain empty for a long time to come.

Latest news here
 
Last edited:

Bertie Bollockbrains

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#8
Right now.. no
Within the past few months.. it has been

It's a place you need to keep an eye on and keep checking. And the police turned up when I went in, so do be careful.

The latest news is that the owners of this building refused to pay for cost of the repairs that the council did under the compulsory repairs order - which means that council tax payers like me really paid for it. The organisers of the Britain in Bloom competition recently said that Devizes was marked down because of this building.
 

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