Northampton Museum & Art Gallery

Northampton Museum & Art Gallery
Guildhall Road, Northampton
Region or country
England (East Midlands)

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.


What can be found at the venue?
Historic building or site
Significant collections relating to regional crime and punishment organisation or to a particular individual
Other than the prison building, the museum holds a few objects relating to crime and punishment in the Social History Department such as truncheons, handcuffs and a cup and plate from the Gaol Chapel.
Does the venue have an online collections catalogue?
Details of opening for public access and / or research services
The museum offers tours of the gaol building given by their history curator. The site is open by appointment only, Tuesdays to Fridays 10.00 to 15.00. Northampton Museum may be able to offer a research service - please enquire.
Available services or facilities
Cafe, Shop, Toilets
Accessibility and disability arrangements / Covid requirements
There are arrangements for disabled access.
Other connected heritage sites, museums or archives
Northamptonshire Records Office holds the records and plans from the gaol.
Date information added or updated:
Entry ID No:
  • Northampton Museum & Art Gallery
  • Northampton Museum & Art Gallery