Ancestry UK

Borough Gaol, Abingdon, Berkshire

The Abingdon Borough Gaol was located in the Abbey Gateway, at the east side of the junction of the High Street and Bridge Street. Debtors were housed on the ground floor and other offenders on the upper floor.

In 1808, James Neild reported on the establishment as follows:

Gaoler, James Goldby, a baker, and Serjeant at Mace. Salary, 10l. Fees, none.
Number of Debtors, 18th August 1803, and 31st August 1806, none.
Allowance; now sixpence per day.

This prison is the old gateway: the ground-floor, about 14 feet square, is for debtors, committed by a Borough process,who are entitled to their sixpences in six weeks. This room has a glazed window,and a fire-place. Up-stairs are three small sleeping-rooms, the straw in which, when I was there, was worn to dust. No court-yard. No water. A tub in one corner serves as a privy,and is emptied once a month, for which the Gaoler charges eightpence. It is a fortunate circumstance,that no prisoners are long detained in this wretched place.

The Abbey Gate location is shown on the 1910 map below.

Abbey Gate location, Abingdon, c.1910.

Abbey Gate from the west, Abingdon.

When the new County House of Correction was opened on Bridge Street in 1811, it also acted as a town gaol and the Abbey Gateway establishment was then closed.

From 1836, the gateway building was occupied by the newly formed Abingdon Borough Police. In 1865, after the premises were condemned, plans were approved for a new police station on Bridge Street. The restored gateway building is now used as a meeting room.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.


  • Prison Oracle - resources those involved in present-day UK prisons.
  • GOV.UK - UK Government's information on sentencing, probation and support for families.