The New Prison in the Regency Era

New Prison plays a part in my current Work in Progress. I thought I might share a bit of information. Unlike the more widely known, Newgate Prison, the New Prison had a less stellar past.

The New Prison was a prison located in the Clerkenwell area of central London between c.1617 and 1877 (it should not be confused with the New Gaol, another name sometimes applied to Horsemonger Lane Gaol in Southwark, south London).

The New Prison was used to house prisoners committed for examination before the police magistrates, for trial at the sessions, for want of bail, and occasionally on summary conviction.

It was rebuilt three times: in 1773, 1818 (after being burnt down in the Gordon Riots of 1780), and in 1847. At this time it was renamed the Clerkenwell House of Detention, also known as Clerkenwell Prison.

Next-door was another prison, the Clerkenwell Bridewell for convicted criminals, built in around 1615. This closed in 1794, being superseded by nearby Coldbath Fields Prison.

Modern Use of Building Remnants
During the Second World War part of the basement was altered to form a bomb shelter.

Today, the site of the New Prison and the Clerkenwell Bridewell is occupied by the former Hugh Myddleton School (1893-c.1960), in Bowling Green Lane. A number of the original underground spaces and cells remain and are used for office space or storage. A 2007 adaptation of Oliver Twist used these spaces for filming in the July 2007.

In 2009, the site was being redeveloped by developer Sans Walk, and the vaults of the building (formerly used for the reception of prisoners, medical examination and baths as well as kitchens) were accessed by members of the IStructE History Study Group.

Famous Inmates
Jack Sheppard – Jack Sheppard or known as John Sheppard (4 March 1702 – 16 November 1724) was a notorious English robber, burglar and thief of early 18th-century London.

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in British history, buildings and structures, George IV, Georgian Era, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, real life tales, William IV and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The New Prison in the Regency Era

  1. Anji says:

    I’m always amazed at the amount of research that goes into writing a novel, especially something like a historical one. It must be important to get things as correct as possible because someone who knows about a particular field is almost certain to complain if you get it wrong, I expect. I know I get annoyed if I pick up something (in an area I consider myself knowledgable) where the research has been minimal or indeed, non-existent.

    Your little, or sometimes not so little, snippets of history research are always fascinating, Regina. Thank you for sharing this. What is the current WIP? Or is it a state secret right now and you’d have to kill me if you told me?

  2. I actually have two WIPs going on at once. The one with the New Prison is an Austen-inspired title. Tentatively, I’m calling it The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin, i.e., Colonel Fitzwilliam is accused of a crime. It is amazing to us in modern times how quickly a crime could be taken before a grand jury and then to Old Bailey. The defendant was basically on his own in proving his innocence.
    The second WIP is a Regency based romance, tentatively called Angel and the Devil Duke. The early edition of the piece took 3rd in historical romance in a romance novel contest.

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