Old courthouse, Dolgellau

Old courthouse, Dolgellau

This building, now home to Y Sospan tea rooms, was once a courthouse and town hall. Downstairs there were prison cells, where vagrants, drunks and others were held. The magistrates’ court was on the first floor.

The building was an administrative centre for the town before the completion in 1825 of the County Hall, which included a courthouse, near the main bridge.

As you can see if you enter Y Sospan, the building retains features from the early 17th century which survived the many alterations made in the 18th century. Notice the beams and the stone floor.

Over one of the building’s fireplaces is a coat of arms bearing the date 1606. Nearby there are plaster decorations depicting, among other things, a man being hanged and a witch being tried by ducking. Suspected witches were strapped to a stool which was then placed under water. If the woman was still alive when the stool was eventually raised, she was deemed a witch and executed. If she drowned, she was innocent but had lost her life anyway!

The building has had various uses since it ceased to be a town hall and courthouse. In 1847 Sir Robert Williams Vaughan fitted out the building as a library for the town’s Cricket and Reading Club, also known as the Reading Society. By 1850 a small museum had been formed in what was then described as the public reading room in the old town hall. Exhibits included Roman, Celtic and Saxon archaeological finds.

The reading room had moved to the town’s Assembly Rooms by 1873, after which accountant Edmund Jones had his offices here.

Postcode: LL40 1AW     View Location Map

Website of Y Sospan