From 1602 until 1824, when they sold the town, the Cavendish family, later Dukes of Devonshire, as Lords of the Manor had a court leet, which settled local affairs, appointed the constables, market inspectors, a bell man and pinder responsible for stray animals. The court house was situated in these gardens. Records of fines imposed for allowing animals to stray still exist.
Guests at the Swan Inn opposite could use this formal garden which still bears a similar design today. A small building combined the old court room with two rooms adjoining where the Duke’s steward collects rents. There was a dovecote, the ancient prerogative of the Lord of the Manor.
Click on any of the plaques below to see more detail.