THE death of the actor Robert Hardy, last Thursday, was being mourned particularly at Presteigne where he was a staunch supporter of the popular Judge’s Lodging Victorian museum which he officially opened in 1997.

Best known perhaps still for his role as Siegfried Farnon in the BBC adaptation of the James Herriott “All Creatures Great and Small” Yorkshire vet books, he also portrayed Winston Churchill eight times, and was known to legions of Harry Potter film fans as Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge.

But visitors to the Judge's Lodging also recognise his voice in the role of chairman of the magistrates Richard Lister Venables on the audio tour recordings.

In 1997, he performed the opening of the building as a museum, after processing through the streets in an 1860s horse-drawn carriage, flanked by the local police, who wore Victorian uniforms and the local cadets, who took on the duties of the Victorian javelin-men, protectors of visiting judges.

On arrival, he gave a rousing speech about the value of protecting heritage sites such as this courthouse, which has been described as the “Most preserved historic court in the UK”.