On Tuesday 8th March, from 10am – 5pm, visitors will be able to explore one of Dorchester’s most historic buildings for free, as well as be one of the first people to see Shire Hall’s new series.
Raising Voices: Women and the Justice System will focus on the stories of Elizabeth Martha Brown, Charlotte Bryant and Violet Van Der Elst. All three women were involved with trials at Shire Hall when it was the county’s Courthouse.
Elizabeth Martha Brown was the last woman to be publicly executed in Dorset in 1856, Charlotte Bryant was the last woman to be sentenced to death in Dorset in 1936 and Violet Van Der Elst was a social activist and campaigner who fought for the abolition of capital punishment.
New interpretation throughout the Museum will explore women’s experiences and roles within the criminal justice system. Visitors will also have the opportunity to reflect on the factors that influenced what happened to them and if similar influences still exist today.
Abbie King, Director of Shire Hall said: “Everyone at Shire Hall Museum is proud to launch Raising Voices: Women and the Justice System. We believe that everyone’s story has a right to be told and heard, which is why we’ve created this series.
“Throughout history, and even still today, the voices and experiences of women are not listened to. When they were alive, the voices of Elizabeth Martha Brown, Charlotte Bryant and Violet Van Der Elst’s were not listened to. Violet as she fought for the rights of others, and Martha and Charlotte as they pleaded for their lives.
“As such, when curating Raising Voices, it was extremely important to us that the voices of these women were used to tell their stories. Extracts from Violet’s book, Charlotte’s letters and Martha’s final confession will feature in the series, alongside modern and contemporary sources.”
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