HISTORY fans are invited to take part in the next round of guided tours at one of Dorchester’s most iconic buildings.

The doors of Shire Hall, the scene of the Tolpuddle Martyrs trial of 1834, will be open from today.

The Grade I listed building contains the Old Crown Court and cells where Judge Jeffreys also presided during the Bloody Assizes. Thomas Hardy sat as a magistrate at the court and what he saw may have inspired some of his work, historians say.

Other activities taking place this year include a performance of ‘The Trials of Oscar Wilde’ in June, tours as part of the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ festival in July and Hallowe’en events in October.

West Dorset District Council leader Cllr Robert Gould said: “People visiting Dorchester will be spoilt for choice with the amount of events happening at Shire Hall.

“There is a whole range of tours, talks and activities for anyone to enjoy.” Tickets for the events will be available at Dorchester Tourist information Centre in Antelope Walk or from Dorchester Arts at The Grove, or by visiting dorchesterarts.org.uk For details, visit dorsetforyou. com/shirehallproject or follow @ShireHallDorch on Twitter