Ancestry UK

Borough Gaol, Bradninch, Devon

The Bradninch Borough Gaol occupied part of the town's Guildhall on Fore Street. The original building was erected in the twelfth century, when Bradninch became a borough. It was rebuilt in the fifteenth century, and then was destroyed by a fire in 1665. Its replacement, constructed in cob and thatch was destroyed by a fire in 1832. It was rebuilt in stone and that building still exists.

A report in 1835 recorded:

The old Gaol was burnt down in the recent fire which consumed the guildhall and the neighbouring buildings. Serious charges were made with regard to the manner in which the old gaol had been conducted; and a culpable neglect on the part of the magistrates was proved, in suffering a want of cleanliness and proper conveniences to exist for a long time. A person who had been confined in the gaol was examined before us, and stated that the stench arising from the nuisances which were not removed, was almost insupportable. Before the building of the new gaol this had been corrected. The present gaol, which is just finished, was built at the expense of the borough, by a liberty-rate, the corporation contributing 120l., and the King, as Duke of Cornwall, 100l.; which latter sum had been intended as a subscription towards the relief of the sufferers by the fire, but which was, with the consent of the officers of the duchy, and of the committee for the relief of the persons suffering by the fire, transferred to the fund for building the gaol. The present gaol, which is under the guildhall, consists of two divisions, one for males and the other for females. The former contains two cells, a day-room and a yard; the latter, a cell capable of holding two persons, and a yard. The floors are flagged, and the windows are glazed. The magistrates have no regular periods for visiting the gaol, but they inspect it occasionally. The gaoler is one of the serjeants at mace.

Guildhall, Bradninch, Devon, date unknown.


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