Closure of Shepton Mallet Prison Heritage Attraction

28 Nov 2023

Shepton Mallet, Somerset, Tuesday 28th November 2023 - Cove Group, have today announced the closure of Shepton Mallet Prison. The closure comes, not as a result of financial difficulty, but following the breakdown between the relationship with the prison operators, Cove Group, and the prison owners, City & Country.

Joel Campbell, CEO of Cove Group, explains, “Over the past seven years we have invested over £1 million into Shepton Mallet Prison, and despite a relentless campaign of perseverance, our endeavours to safeguard and enhance this historical site have been met with a disheartening lack of support from City & Country.
“Our efforts to secure a future for the prison through direct purchase were not just undervalued but met with resistance and unreasonable financial demands, especially concerning property insurance costs that far exceed the market rate. Despite our continued efforts to negotiate and find alternative insurance arrangements, City & Country have informed us that if we do not meet their demands then notice will be served imminently.
“This impasse has forced us to make the heart-rending decision to cease operating Shepton Mallet Prison from the 2nd January 2024. The closure is a stark reflection of the disregard shown by City & Country towards a business that has not only celebrated but vitalised the history and economy of Shepton Mallet.”
Shepton Mallet Prison is the world’s oldest purpose-built prison, with over 400 years of history. The closure of the site will result in the loss of eighteen jobs and an attraction that has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors to Somerset and Shepton Mallet since 2017.
Site Manager, Charlie Lawson, said, “Our success has been a testament to the resilience, creativity, and unwavering spirit of our brilliant team. It has been a privilege to protect and enhance such an important part of the region’s heritage. The closure is a blow not just to us, but to the entire community that embraced us.”

Joel Campbell added, “As a team we are proud of the indelible mark we've left on Shepton Mallet, Somerset, and the UK's heritage tourism. We hope that our story will inspire future generations to cherish and protect our rich, collective history.”
The prison is expected to close on 2nd January 2024, giving the public just four weeks to visit the site before it closes its doors forever.
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Closure of Shepton Mallet Prison Heritage Attraction
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