On Wednesday 6th July, a group of Year 12 Law students were treated to a guided tour of the Brighton old police cells museum.
Located beneath the current town hall, the cells date from the 1830s, and now contain exhibits tracing the history of crime and policing in Brighton and nationally until the 1980s. We discussed the techniques and equipment used – haphazardly perhaps – by Victorian police officers.
The actual cells themselves are daubed in suitably expressive graffiti, some dating from the Mods and Rockers’ invasion, while a separate exhibit explains the Grand Hotel bombing in 1984. From a Law perspective, we learnt of the untimely murder of Chief Constable Henry Solomon in 1844, fatally injured by an alleged carpet thief in his own office.
Another important local case, this time in the development of the defence of insanity, involved Christiana Edmunds, who attempted to poison her lover’s wife with strychnine laced chocolates, before selling other toxic confectionary to cover her tracks. Agatha Christi was intrigued by the case. Such episodes ensured that Brighton gained a reputation as the ‘Queen of slaughtering places’.