Top Prisons Open to Visitors in the UK

29th Apr, 2016

You’re going to jail! It’s not something everyone wants to hear, however, you don’t have to be a criminal to visit a UK prison! There are many historic and operating jails that allow you to visit as a guest. Visiting a prison isn’t as scary as it sounds, they are a great way to learn about the history of wherever you are visiting. And in most cases, a towns’ prison is often the epicenter of some of the best stories. Read on for the top prisons open to visitors in the UK:

6. Bodmin Jail, Cornwall

Originally built for King George III in 1779, this visitor experience is set over six floors! This fascinating building, steeped in both social and architectural history, offers visitors an amazing insight into Cornish penal life over the centuries.

Credit: Jon Blathwayt
Credit: Jon Blathwayt

5. York Castle prison

Part of York Castle Museum, the prison exhibition is housed in 18th century prison buildings. Visitors will get a flavour of what life was really like in the original cells and see some of the most infamous inmates brought to life.

4. Oxford Castle & Prison

Take a guided tour and discover the 1,000-year history of Oxford Castle & Prison. Initially, a Motte and Bailey Castle that transformed over time into a prison. This building is vital to the development of the city of Oxford… And not to mention, housing the university’s drunken students!

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3. Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast

The Crumlin Road Gaol dates back to 1845 and like HMP Oxford Castle, only closed its doors as a working prison in 1996. Explore over 150 years of history with a Guided Tour of Belfast’s Infamous Prison.

2. The Clink, London

The Clink Prison Museum is built upon the original site of The Clink Prison, which dating back to 1144 was one of England’s oldest and most notorious prisons. Visitors will learn all about the scandalous truth through a hands-on educational experience, with the opportunity to view architectural artefacts, handle torture devices, and hear all about the tales of torment and many misfortunes of the inmates of the infamous prison.

Credit Lisa Tozzi
Credit Lisa Tozzi

1. Galleries of Justice, Nottingham
England’s history of Crime and Punishment is a shocking one. As are the sinister and grim stories of Nottingham’s own outlaws which are brought to life in the building where they were judged imprisoned and executed. To capture and explain this gruesome history, visitors to the museum of Crime and Punishment will explore exhibitions, and experience audio and performance-led tours set in Nottingham’s old courthouse and gaol.

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Photo credits:

Bodmin Jail – credit to Jon Blathwayt, used under the Creative Commons attribution license

The Clink – credit to Lisa Tozzi, used under the Creative Commons attribution license (as above)

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