A center for law and order
The parish hall was the countryside equivalent of a town hall and an important public institution. Here people gathered for parish meetings to decide matters of common interest such as parish buildings, poor relief, health care, roads and schools. Here soldiers were enlisted to go to war, censuses and court sessions were held and verdicts were announced.
There was a jail in the parish cottage with two cells. Accused people were kept here whilst awaiting trial and sentence, which was often some form of corporal punishment or a fine. The death penalty was applied for serious crimes such as manslaughter and murder, but also for theft, witchcraft and bigamy. The last execution in Gammelstad took place in 1828.
Gammelstad´s present parish cottage is most likely the fourth of its kind. It was built in 1754 in the urban district east of the church and was moved to its present site in the 1980s.