Event Details

CLA South West Guided Tour of Shepton Mallet Prison

Shepton Mallet prison has a colourful and gruesome history. Built in 1610 following on Act introduced by King James I, which stated that all counties had to have their own ‘House of Correction’; Shepton Mallet was the oldest working prison in the United Kingdom up until its closure at the end of March 2013.

The House of Correction would hold men women and children together.  Debtors, thieves, ‘misfits’, vagrants and people with mental health disorders were sentenced to long periods.  Primitive sanitation led to regular outbreaks of diseases. 

The prison has a long history of death sentences carried out under methods including HDQ, hanging and by firing squad. The last death sentence at Shepton Prison occurred in 1945 under military use.  The prison closed in 1930 due to under use; it held an average of just 51 prisoners.  It re-opened in 1939 as a British military prison.  The last reported escape was in 1993.

Shepton Mallet prison is believed to have housed the Domesday Book and Magna Carta, the HMS Victory logbooks and the Olive Branch Petition during the War. Over 300 documents were housed there at one point, some were moved (not including the Domesday Book) when Bristol and Bath began being hit by German bombs – the documents were spread to different locations to reduce the risk of the entire collection being destroyed.

A former prison officer will take our guided tour and members will be given the chance to have a ‘Closed Cell’ experience, which involves entering cells and having the doors closed behind you.

Please note the tour covers one mile and includes 200 stairs. 

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Event Details

Wednesday 30 January 2019
10:30AM - 12:30PM
Shepton Mallet Jail, Frithfield Lane, BA4 5LU
20.83 + VAT CLA Members and guests
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