A Brighton Diary: Don’t Get Locked Up

Note: This is the seventh part in an on-going series chronicling my study abroad trip in Brighton, England. I am joined on this trip by my classmates and friends Cassie JenkinsClaire RobertsonVy NguyenJhocelyn AlvaradoMorgan CollierAbigail Pennington and Susan Salvo, led by director of student publications, Andy Coughlan.

Day 8 — June 19

Thursday brought me to perhaps the most bizarre museum I’ve ever been to. Its oddity had nothing to do with its subject matter, rather, its location and quirky guide.

We visited the Old Police Cells Museum of Brighton, which sits beneath the city’s town hall.

Its initial claim to fame came as the murder scene of Henry Solomon, Chief Constable.

Solomon’s fate was decided by John Lawrence, a petty criminal arrested after he and acquaintances decided to steal a carpet from a local shop. Since he’d been drinking heavily throughout the night, Lawrence seemed little threat to Solomon and was instructed to wait in a chair by the fireplace. The chief constable’s grave mistake came when he turned away from Lawrence to consult with some commissioners and struck across the back of the head with a fire poker.

Solomon suffered a fractured skull that he never recovered from.

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Courtesy of Brighton Museums

Lawrence was tried, found guilty and publicly hanged within three weeks.

It’s rumored that the ghost of Henry Solomon still walks throughout the old cells.

My visit didn’t include any ghosts, (that I’m aware of).

My visit did include, however, a lesson on the fashion choices of Sussex police officers and how it’s changed throughout the years.

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My visit also included stories about various murders that had taken place in Brighton & Hove over several decades.

For instance, the “Death by chocolate,” placard detailing the 19th century murder

Our tour guide was the wonderful Ian Barber, a former police sergeant.

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Andy thought this was a good photo even though I look like an alien. Photo by Andy Coughlan

I think this place takes the cake as the smallest and most bizarre museum I’ve ever been to. But that’s its charm.

If you have any interest in learning about criminal justice in England, I recommend you visit this museum. At the very least, go on a tour just to meet Sgt. Barber. He’ll make your trip worthwhile.

For more information, visit www.oldpolicecellsmuseum.org.uk.

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