The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas (Keswick)

2 Bank Street, Keswick, CA12 5JY
The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas (Keswick) Outside

Perhaps the quirkiest pub in Keswick, certainly for its name alone, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas is a Wetherspoons pub in the heart of this Lake District town. The pub first opened in 2014, housed in a converted building that was once a police station and a magistrate’s court, hence the name. Some of the features from the building’s former occupants remain, including the dock, witness stand, court benches, and two police cells complete with doors that are now used as dining rooms.

Keswick is arguably Britain’s most dog friendly town with most of the restaurants, pubs, cafés, and shops allowing dogs to wander in freely. For those who are allergic to pet hair, fearful of dogs, or simply don’t like the idea of dining near an animal, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas is a welcome respite, since, as with all other Wetherspoons pubs, dogs are not permitted.

Food & Drink

As with many other Wetherspoons pubs, the fact that this is a chain pub hasn’t prevented it from being able to stock a wide selection of well kept real ales behind the bar. There are usually around nine to choose from, and the choices vary regularly, with ales sourced from small and large breweries across the country. You can usually expect to find at least one local brew here, if not more. In addition, there is a good choice of wines, spirits, whiskies and soft drinks. Of course, this being a Wetherspoons, you can expect most of the drinks here to offer good value for money, with prices being considerably lower than other pubs in the area. The pub also sells barista style coffee with free refills.

Food is served all day from 8am. Until noon, patrons can enjoy a cooked breakfast, with an extensive menu that includes a Full English, American style pancakes and a breakfast wrap. Throughout the rest of the day, there are a wide choice of dishes on offer, with something to suit most people’s tastes. There are lighter dishes including jacket potatoes, paninis, wraps and hot snacks for those with smaller appetites, as well as a varied choice of pub classics, British favourites, and internationally inspired cuisine. There is a children’s menu with a good range of options, and plenty of dishes for vegetarians. Many of the dishes have a free drink included. Users of the Wetherspoons app can order food on their phone to be delivered directly to their table.

Other Features

Some other important features include:

  • A beer garden to the rear of the building
  • Toilets equipped with baby changing facilities
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout
  • Television screens (normally tuned into a news channel – no subscription to any sports channels)


The building that the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas occupies was built at the turn of the twentieth century to provide a police station and magistrate’s court for the town. The building stands on the site of a workhouse that was founded in 1644 by the will of Sir John Banks, who was known for being a generous benefactor in Keswick and passed away that year. The workhouse continued to receive funding for many years thanks to a charity established in the will of Sir John Banks.

Banks was an esteemed lawyer before becoming an MP, and later, Attorney General. He became Chief Justice of the Common Pleas – one of the highest ranks in the judiciary – in 1644. Whilst the workhouse has long since vanished, his generosity to Keswick is remembered via a plaque mounted on the post office adjacent to the pub. The current building was occupied by the police and judiciary until the year 2000.


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