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The Old Gaol

Outline History


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THE OLD GAOL
- INTRODUCTION
- CROSS-SECTION
- OUTLINE HISTORY
- GAOLBREAK OF 1538
- CRIME & PUNISHMENT
- FOOD ACTIVITY

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Hexham Gaol held prisoners captured in Hexhamshire, the area ruled over by the Archbishop of York. His Bailiff and other officials ran the Shire on his behalf from the nearby Moothall.

By the 16th Century, the gaol was being used to house prisoners accused of committing crimes within the Border Marches. It was often used to hold hostages, known as pledges, who were held until fines were paid or accused people turned up to take their place.

The building was not always that secure, and the men working there were happy to be bribed to turn a blind eye to rescues. In 1538 there was one of several recorded gaolbreaks.

The gaol continued in use until the 1820s, when a new county gaol was buit at Morpeth. By 1828 most prisoners were held in Morpeth Gaol, and the Hexham House of Correction was in use for petty thieves.

The building was taken over and used variously as a bank, solicitors' office, home for the Rifle Volunteers, a Billiards Club, and a place from which to firewatch in the Second World War. By the mid-1970s the building was in a bad state. Major repairs were undertaken, and the building reopened in 1980 as a museum and tourist information centre.

Glossary
GLOSSARY
The Old Gaol

Historical
HISTORICAL SOURCES
1523 Crime & Punishment
Timeline for Old Gaol
Order for Building
Torture

Information
INFORMATION
Teachers' Resources
Opening times & Directions
Border Library

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