Northampton Museum & Art Gallery
The building that Northampton Museum and Art Gallery occupies was initially constructed in 1846 as a red brick L-shaped Victorian addition to the County Gaol. The Victorian gaol block comprised of rows of cells divided by iron bars along the walls. The cells were separated by a central corridor with galleried walkways connected by spiral stairs. On the first floor at the north of the building there were larger rooms that may have served as storerooms and gaolers’ rooms. At the north end of the basement floor were the condemned cells, where inmates were held prior to being hung. Hangings first took place at the gaol in 1819 on Angel Lane behind the Georgian Block. They moved there from Northampton Racecourse due to concerns about the size of the crowds gathering to view the hangings. The hanging area was known as the ‘New Drop’ and twenty people were hanged here over a period of almost 40 years. In 1852 the last public hanging at Northampton took place when Elizabeth Pinkard was executed for murdering her mother-in-law. In 1879 Gaol Commissioners deemed the site unfit in accordance with health and hygiene standards of the day and in 1880, the gaol closed.