You can tell a judge is popular when an usher at his court fashions a humorous painting of him enjoying his favourite pastime of gardening.

Something of an inspired, cartoon-like study, it has pride of place on the wall of Judge Michael Brodrick's rooms at the Crown Court, Winchester.

It is partnered, on another wall, by a photographic collage of the lawyer, together with many staff members of the courts team at Winchester, in front of a very grand garden indeed - not his own, His Honour hastens to add.

All this is very appropriate, he says, because the appointment he has received in the past week reflects the team nature of the Winchester courts.

He has been named by the Lord Chancellor as senior circuit judge - a new position for the city. The Lord Chancellor has awarded the honour, recognising the high standard of the work of the resident judge, said a colleague.

Judge Brodrick (61) confessed his delight: "It's very nice," he beamed. "The important thing is it's a post created for this court - I merely happen to be the first occupant. It reflects very well on everyone who works in the building. I will be based here until I retire."

He added: "I have been here full-time for three and a half years as resident judge, in succession to Judge Tucker."

Judge Brodrick was appointed to the Western circuit in October, 1987, starting work in Portsmouth.

Michael Brodrick and his wife, Valerie, have a son aged 30 who is a solicitor, and a 27-year-old daughter who is a physiotherapist.

He studied law at Oxford and was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1965.

He has lived in Hampshire for 30 years and he has many strong connections with the county.

Judge Brodrick's father, His Honour, Judge Norman Brodrick, QC, was Recorder of Portsmouth. His great grandfather was Master of St Cross, Winchester.

Judge Brodrick is liaison judge with magistrates for North Hampshire, Counsellor to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral and president of the council of circuit judges.

The judge readily acknowledged that he was very busy with his work and appointments and that there wasn't that much time for gardening, though he received good support from his family.

Of course, the work was very absorbing, he agreed, the new appointment was welcome and this week also brought the news that his daughter had become engaged.

"Life is fun," he said.