Ancestry UK

Borough Gaol, Andover, Hampshire

By 1801, Andover had a Borough Gaol adjoining the old town workhouse on Winton Street (now Winchester Road), immediately north of where the Southampton Arms now stands.

In 1812, James Neild reported on the establishment:

Gaoler, Thomas Cowley; No Salary: A Shoemaker by trade: but he is likewise Town-Crier, and Keeper of the Town-Hall, as also Collector of the Market Tolls; from each of which appointments he derives some casual Fee. Fees, Debtors and Felons, 3s. 4d.

Surgeons, Messrs. Poore and Pitman; they make a Bill.

Number of Prisoners,Debtors.Felons, &c.
l801, Jan. 10th,00
1802, Dec. 28th,10
1807, Sept. 25th,00

Allowance, to those who are unable to maintain themselves, 6d. per day; and, in extremely cold weather, a fire.

This Gaol, for the Borough of Andover, consists of two rooms, with boarded floors, one over the other. That for Men is about 16feet by 14, and 8 feet high: the upper room, for the Women, 14 feet by 12, and of the same height as the former. Here is a small court-yard, about 16 feet square.

The Debtors sent here, are only those committed by process issuing out of Andover Town-court.

The Borough allows straw only on bedsteads.

Prisoners for felony, after final examination, are committed to the County Gaol at Winchester. The two rooms set apart for them look toward the river, through small iron-grated windows. The court is in front of the house, and the passage, or road through it, is separated from the main-street by a very low paling; so that the Prisoners can have no use of it.

When I was here in 1807, the Women's Gaol was filled up with tanner's bark, made into halls for fuel.

The Gaoler's house, being under the same roof as the Prison, a bed-chamber in it is appropriated to Prisoners, in case they are more than the Gaol can conveniently accommodate.

In 1837, the Inspectors of Prisons reported:

This Prison adjoins the Workhouse, and consists of a room for Men 18 feet by 12 feet, and apartments above of the same size for Females. The Window of the lower Room opens into a yard into which any person may easily enter. The Cell on the ground-floor has a privy, through which two men escaped in April last. There is no Privy in the upper Room. The Prisoners are not allowed to take exercise in the Yard.

All descriptions of Prisoners are committed to this Gaol, but the numbers are very small. Five is the greatest number that has been in custody at one time for some years. In 1835, a Prisoner underwent a sentence of six months. In 1836, two Prisoners had been confined 49 days, one 26, and another 27 days.

The Magistrates are aware of the defects which we have described, and are ready immediately to build a new Prison.

The following year, the Inspectors made a more detailed report on the prison:

Construction.—This prison is small, inconvenient, and insecure; only fitted for a lock-up house. There are only three cells; one is upon the ground-floor, which contains two beds and a privy. There are two cells on the first floor. There is only one yard, with a garden of some space attached to it. There is ample room for enlarging the premises, and for forming a separate yard for the male and female prisoners. The whole establishment is totally unsuited for the purpose of imprisonment.

Management.—Prisoners for hard labour and for long terms of imprisonment are sent to Winchester. There are no planted nor written rules. The prisoners remain all day in their cells, except when they go to the privy: this confinement arises from the insecurity of the yard. The only punishments are the putting on hand-cuffs and reduction of diet. No order has been made respecting a matron; but the gaoler's wife acts as such. She washes whatever is necessary for the prisoners, and does not even receive soap for the performance of this work. The gaoler has been in office since 1813, when the prison was built. The county magistrates use this prison as a county lock-up house by leave of the town council.

Escapes.—There have been two escapes since the year 1813; neither prisoner was retaken.

Visits.—Visits are always made in the presence of the gaoler or of his family; to prisoners after trial they can only be made by an order from the magistrates.

Letters.—All letters are read by the gaoler.

Diet.—All the prisoners are allowed 4d. a-day, out of which sum the gaoler purchases for them such food as they may choose. The allowance was formerly 6d. daily. The untried may receive food from their friends without, and the convicted also, but only by order of the magistrates. No spirits are permitted. Blankets and rugs alone are supplied by the town council for the purpose of bedding.

Salary.—The gaoler receives only 10l. a-year; he supplies the mattresses, for which he formerly received 10s. a-quarter, which sura has been discontinued since the commencement of the year 1836. He also receives the accidental emoluments of town-crier and bill-sticker. He obtains no coals nor candles.

Religious and other Instruction.—There is no chaplain. Occasional service was formerly performed by the vicar and the curate: but this has not been the case for the last quarter of a-year. There is no chapel.

Labour.—For the last year and a-half there has been none here. Formerly the prisoners used sometimes to be set to pick oakum. They are occasionally allowed to work at their own trade.

Care of the Sick, Disease, and Mortality.—When a surgeon is wanted, the gaoler applies to a magistrate for an order. He recollects no death, nor any attempt at suicide since 1813.

General Statistics.

View of the progress of the Population:—

The number admitted in832 was5012
"1833 was356
"1834 was387
"1835 was379
From 1st January 1837 to 1st June1837 were admitted278

The number of Prisoners in confinement here at the date of my visit, 1st June 1837, was three male prisoners, of whom one was untried and two were convicted.

The greatest number of Prisoners confined here at one time, from 1st January 1837 to 1st June 1837, was five male prisoners and three female prisoners. The five male prisoners were placed together in one cell, and the three female prisoners were distributed in two cells. The gaoler does not recollect a greater number than the above to have been con fined here at once for some time past.

The greatest number of days during which any prisoner has remained here, from the 1st of January 1837 to the 1st of June 1837, was in the instance of one female who was confined here from the 4th of January to the 3d of March 1837; but I believe that this was an unusual length of stay.

Suggestions towards Improvement.

1. This prison requires to be enlarged.

2. There should be a yard both for the male and female prisoners; the single yard which exists at present is not sufficiently secure. If the wall were raised it would become available for one prisoner at a time to take exercise in.

3. The salary of the gaoler should be increased, and he should be thus relieved in the occupation of crier and bill-sticker, so that his whole attention might be devoted to the prison.

For the same reason it would be desirable, if possible, that he should not be employed to conduct prisoners to Winchester.

4. The gaoler should not be allowed to supply any part of the bedding himself; and his wife should be paid for washing the clothes and bedding.

5. A supply of books is wanting.

6. Although the number of prisoners is usually very small, it is still desirable that some means of religious instruction should be provided.

7. The allowance of salt and soap should be made for each prisoner.

8. An order should be made that the female prisoners should be exclusively attended by one of their own sex; and a small salary should be allotted to the gaoler's wife on condition that she acts as matron.

9. A lock-up house should be made distinct from the prison,, so that night charges may not be placed in the prisoners' cells.

10. A small store of clothing should be supplied for the use of the destitute.

11. A fixed diet should be substituted instead of the allowance in money.

The prison closed in 1858, then in 1860 was converted into a county police station.


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