Monday, 14 November 2011

Garrow's Law and the Old Bailey

Last night saw the return of the Georgian drama, 'Garrow's Law', to our television screens. This is an excellent BBC drama about the Georgian  justice system, inspired by the pioneering 18th century barrister, William Garrow. Mainly set in the courtroom of the period, it is largely based on real trials from the Old Bailey, when the young Garrow made history by defending often innocent and poor people.

Since it's a drama, it also has wonderful characters in Garrow himself, the love of his life and married mistress, Lady Sarah, her dastardly husband, Sir Arthur Hill, and Garrow's friend and colleague, Southouse. Garrow and Lady Sarah caused a scandal by eventually living openly together, even though her husband always had at least one mistress and illegitimate child of his own.

There is no doubt the justice system needed shaking up in the 18th century and Garrow is credited with introducing the legal practise: 'Innocent until proven guilty', a new concept at the time, when the most minor crime was punished by hanging. The series also illustrates the plight of women, when even a Lady like Sarah has no rights of her own.

Wonderful drama for any historical novelist! The Old Bailey now has cases available for research online, from 1674 to 1913.



Judith Arnopp said...

I was so pleased to see the return of GArrow's Law yesterday, it stands out a mile above any other series. Marvellous stuff.

Carolb said...

I was pleased to see the third series was starting yesrerday.
As much as I like the 18th century, I'm glad I wasn't a woman then, with no rights, nor access to your children if your husband disowned you.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Judith - thanks for commenting, and I quite agree!

Absolutely, Carol - that's the part that really gets to me!

Joan Fleming said...

A welcome return of the series, Rosemary. Last night's episode was a great re-introduction to the characters.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Absolutely, Joan - I also love seeing the clothes of the period on the screen

Maggie Craig said...

I couldn't agree more. All the characters are well-rounded and interesting in their own right and I love the way the programme blends together the personal dramas with issues such as, in the first episode, whether someone was mentally well enough to be tried.

I love the clothes too, Romy. And I think it's largely filmed in Scotland - including Pollok House, I think - so there's the added attraction of spotting locations you know.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for commenting, Maggie - glad we're all in agreement about how good it is! I blogged about Pollok House here before and have a post about it on my reading and writing blog just now, as we were there on Saturday.