1821 - conversion to courts
The Great Hall was in use as the Assize Courtroom from 1273, making it one of the longest running records of court usage in England. The rapid increase in urban population in England during the 19th Century led to the rebuilding of the court facilities in many towns and cities across the country. Leicester County decided rather than building a new courthouse, it would create new courts within the Great Hall of Leicester Castle’s Great Hall.
In 1821 the Great Hall was divided up into two separate court rooms, a civil court on one side and a criminal court on the other with a passage leading from the dock down to the holding cells below.
A Grand Jury Room (later on used as a juvenile court) was created on the upper floor. From 1856-1858 William Parsons, the local County Surveyor, carried out further major alterations to the building. These alterations were largely involved with the rebuilding and raising of the western aisle of the Great Hall to provide better accommodation for the officers of the court and the judges. The west front of the Great Hall was strengthened in brick. New windows, with plate glass sashes, were inserted on the semi-basement, ground and first floors.
In 1888 the County Justices purchased Leicester Castle’s Great Hall from the Crown and its royal connections ceased.