I last visted the Glleries of Justice about 6 years ago when the tour flowed, information was plentiful, and the only thing that spoiled it was being 'forced' into role play in the courtroom.
Hubby and I visited on the 18th Oct 2012, with a steely resolve not to get roped into 'participation' again. As it turned out, we were the only two people on the tour!
The Galleries of Justice covers a large area and there is lots to see, so allow a good couple of hours. It has many uneven steps and floors in some parts so care needs to be taken if elderly or infirm. Some areas are dark and a little scary, so not really suitable for nder fives.
It cost us £19 for two adults, plus £1 for a guide 'book' (fold out pamphlet).
We could have bought combined tickets for the Caves, but had already been there a while ago, althought this is quite a good saver for those who have time to see both, and who haven't been before.
We were greeted by our first guide - the 'Judge' who took us into the courtroom.
Thankfully no role play this time due to lack of numbers I imagine, but the guide was knowledgeable, entertaining and didn't try to ham it up. As there was no information available in the room, his knowledge and facts were valuable and interesting, and threw up some surprising gems!
From there we ventured into the cells beneath, where we were met by another guide, an older lady, in the guise of a 'prisoner'. We didn't really take in the information she proffered, as she was very 'in your face', firing questions at us about the crimes we had supposedly committed as fellow prisoners. Her breath stank, and all we wanted to do was read the information behind her, take photos and look around.
We never got the chance however, as she ushered us through and on to the next area, where we were on our own for a short while before being met in the exercise yard by the 'matron'. This obnoxious little madam nearly earned herself a hard slap. About 18/19 years old, very aggressive and in your face, throwing insults and making us both feel very uncomfortable - and FAR too comfortable playing the belittling, berating power-crazed harridan if you ask us. We were obviously aware she was playing a character, but at one point, she asked my husband to put his camera bag, which contained in excess of £1000 of equipment, on the floor. He refused, and after throwing insults and sarcastic comments, she proceeded to stare, unblinking at him, for what seemed like ages.
Hubby being ex army, and used to being glared and bawled at by superiors, took it in his stride. I however, felt VERY ill at ease, and almost reached the point of saying enough was enough, it's not real, and suggesting we leave.
Eventually she disappeared, but that was yet another opportunity missed to read the boards and the prisoner's scrawlings in the yard, all because of being subjected to this stupid play acting.
We were told previously, that we could double back afterwards and go through the places again at our own pace, but when we ventured back into the yard, 'Matron' asked us if we'd mind keeping out of the way as another group was coming through!
As it takes a fair bit of time to do the whole building, we didn't really have time to go back through everywhere again without spending the whole day there, which was a shame as it's a fabulous place and quite creepy in parts. We came away feeling quite cheated that we'd not got to see everything at our leisure, and to properly take in the history and horror of the place.
To sum up, fabulous place but ruined by the enforced actor interaction.
Won't be back in a hurry :(
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.