To provide you with the best experience on this website, cookies are used. By using the site it's assumed that you're happy with our use of cookies. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time. More info on cookies.
Allow cookies

Shepton Mallet Prison

Add Shepton Mallet Prison to your Itinerary

Alternative Days out

Shepton Mallet Prison

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 land was purchased from Reverend Edward Barnards for a cost of £160. 

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.  There are very few records of the conditions inside, many people could not read and write and it was not considered necessary to keep a record of ‘matters of such distaste’. Conditions and favours by jailors resulted in promiscuous behaviour, lax discipline and drunken behaviour. 

Primitive sanitation led to regular outbreaks of gaol fever, ulcers, jaundice, asthma, itch and venereal diseases.  The only real medical aid was the local surgeon (doctor) being called in to pronounce a death.  Following any deaths within the house of correction bodies were taken to an unconsecrated burial ground just outside the prison, the door in the wall on Frithfield lane still exists as do 9 unmarked graves within the grounds. It was common practice with British executions to bury prisoners in this way. 

The prison has a long history of death sentences being carried out under methods including HDQ, hanged and by firing squad.  The Hanging room which still exists, though has been used as office space for many years. Following the Monmouth Rebellion of 1642-1685 at least 12 Shepton men were HDQ for having sympathised with the rebels, their bowels were burned and their heads placed on poles around the town. 

The last death sentence at Shepton Prison occurred in 1945 under military use.  The last civilian hanged there was John Lincoln in 1926, for fatally shooting 25 year old Edward Richards in Trowbridge on 24th December 1925.  The list of executioners used included Thomas and Albert Pierrepoint. The gallows were removed in 1967 after the return of the prison to civilian use in 1966.

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.  It soon housed 300 men from all armed services, some being placed in huts in the prison yard.  Between 1942-1945 it was run as an American military prison, housing 768 soldiers. At the end of 1944, it was guarded by 12 officers and 82 enlisted men. 18 American servicemen were executed, 16 hanged and 2 shot by firing squad.

It returned to British military use in September 1945, used primarily for servicemen due to be discharged after serving their sentence.  Soldiers held there included the Kray twins who were serving out their national service after absconding, it was here they met Charlie Richardson. 

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.

The last reported escape was in 1993, three prisoners descended the prison wall using knotted sheets after tunneling through a two foot wall, and they were soon recaptured.  The earliest escape on record was in 1765. At 75 feet high the prison has some of the highest walls in the prison estate.

 

Opening Times

Season (2 Jan 2019 - 31 Dec 2019)

* Closed Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day
Maybe closed for special events – information given on Website

Prices

Ticket TypeTicket Tariff
Adult Guided Tour£18.00 per ticket
Adult Self-Guided Tour£15.00 per ticket
Child (5-15) Guided Tour£12.50 per ticket
Child (5-15) Self-Guided Tour£9.50 per ticket
Family Guided Tour£47.50 per ticket
Family Self-Guided Tour£43.50 per ticket
Student / OAP Guided Tour£16.00 per ticket
Student / OAP Self-Guided Tour£13.00 per ticket

Note: Prices are a guide only and may change on a daily basis.

Search What's Nearby

Product Type
Within miles

Search Again?

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)

What's Nearby

  1. The Old Stables B&B

    Add The Old Stables B&B to your Itinerary

    The Old Stables B&B

    Nestled in the hamlet of Chelynch, in the beautiful Somerset countryside, a warm and...

    1.73 miles away
  2. The White House

    Add The White House to your Itinerary

    The White House

    B&B near Wells, Somerset. A warm welcome awaits you at The White House in the small and...

    3.56 miles away
  3. Beryl

    Add Beryl to your Itinerary

    Beryl

    A small family-run Victorian Gothic Mansion, set in 13 acres of gardens and parkland,...

    4.27 miles away
  1. BEST WESTERN PLUS Swan Hotel

    Add BEST WESTERN PLUS Swan Hotel to your Itinerary

    BEST WESTERN PLUS Swan Hotel

    The four-star, independently owned Swan Hotel ticks so many boxes; An entry in the...

    4.69 miles away
  2. White Hart Pub with Rooms

    Add White Hart Pub with Rooms to your Itinerary

    White Hart Pub with Rooms

    The White Hart Hotel can be found in the heart of Wells, England’s smallest city....

    4.71 miles away
  3. Wookey Hole Mendip View Luxury Lodges

    Add Wookey Hole Mendip View Luxury Lodges to your Itinerary

    Wookey Hole Mendip View Luxury Lodges

    Revamped, restored and totally remarkable, the new Wookey Hole experience has burst onto...

    6.06 miles away
  4. Wookey Hole Hotel

    Add Wookey Hole Hotel to your Itinerary

    Wookey Hole Hotel

    Come and stay at The West Country’s newest hotel. Great value family breaks all year...

    6.08 miles away
  5. Worth House

    Add Worth House Hotel to your Itinerary

    Worth House Hotel

    Small country hotel part dating back to 16thC. Exposed beams and log fires. Two miles...

    7.12 miles away
  6. Orchard Farm Cottages

    Add Orchard Farm Cottages to your Itinerary

    Orchard Farm Cottages

    Two cosy self-catering cottages converted from a traditional Somerset farm building,...

    7.8 miles away
  7. The Ammerdown Centre

    Add The Ammerdown Centre to your Itinerary

    The Ammerdown Centre

    Imagine the Ammerdown Centre: a Conference and Retreat Centre nestling in woods next to a...

    7.88 miles away
  8. Cheddar Self Catering Holiday Caravans

    Add Cheddar Self Catering Holiday Caravans to your Itinerary

    Cheddar Self Catering Holiday Caravans

    Set in the rolling hills on the outskirts of the village Priddy, the highest in the...

    8.01 miles away
  9. Cheddar Camping and Caravanning Club Site

    Add Cheddar Camping and Caravanning Club Site to your Itinerary

    Cheddar Camping and Caravanning Club Site

    Set in the rolling hills on the outskirts of the village Priddy, the highest in the...

    8.01 miles away
  10. Westbury Cross House

    Add Westbury Cross House to your Itinerary

    Westbury Cross House

    Luxury boutique B&B between Wells & Cheddar in Somerset.

    8.14 miles away
  11. Double-Gate Farm

    Add Double-Gate Farm to your Itinerary

    Double-Gate Farm

    Georgian farmhouse B&B accommodation with self catering converted barns in a peaceful...

    8.62 miles away
  12. The Cross Keys Inn, Country Inn and Caravan Site

    Add The Cross Keys Inn, Country Inn and Caravan Site to your Itinerary

    The Cross Keys Inn, Country Inn and Caravan Site

    Visit the Cross Keys Inn and you’ll find a traditional, real ale, Somerset country pub....

    8.64 miles away
  13. The Lighthouse

    Add The Lighthouse to your Itinerary

    The Lighthouse

    We are passionate about providing a warm, welcoming service for all who choose to visit...

    9.13 miles away
Previous Next

Our Sponsors