September 2022: Shrewsbury and Shepton Mallet Prison Museums
Shrewsbury Prison is known as the world’s most interactive prison. A heritage led, world class tourism experience that began inspiring, immersing, educating and engaging visitors through a journey behind bars in 2015.
Shrewsbury Prison was built in 1793 and was decommissioned in 2013. Since its closure, we have made it our mission to preserve, protect and promote the history and heritage of this momentous, 200-year-old building by shining a light on prison life from the Georgian era to modern day.
Shrewsbury Prison, known as The Dana, was originally constructed by Thomas Telford. Williams Blackburn, an architect who designed many prisons, also played a part and was influenced by the ideas of John Howard, a renowned Prison Reformer. John had suggested many ways in which sanitary conditions in English prisons could be improved.
Howard visited the prison in 1788 and disliked some aspects of the design, such as the size of the interior courts. Thomas Telford took responsibility for these changes and Shrewsbury Prison was finished with a bust of John Howard sitting proudly above the Gatehouse. He gives his name to Howard Street where the prison is located.
Shepton Mallet Prison is known as the world’s most haunted prison. A heritage led, world class tourism experience that began inspiring, immersing, educating and engaging visitors through a journey behind bars in 2017.
Shepton Mallet Prison housed its first inmates in 1625 and was decommissioned in 2013. Since its closure, we have made it our mission to preserve, protect and promote the history and heritage of this momentous, 400-year-old building by shining a light on prison life from the Jacobean era to modern day.
Shepton Mallet Prison, often known as Cornhill or The Mallet, was purchased for £160.00 back in 1625 from Rev. E Barnard. George Sheephaye became the first Governor of the Gaol.
During the prison’s early years, the House of Correction consisted of rather primitive conditions. Prisoners weren’t necessarily separated based on the seriousness of the crime they had committed and often men, woman and children would be held together. These conditions led to lax discipline, drunken inmates, promiscuous behaviour and the lack of proper sanitation led to regular outbreaks of diseases, such as goal fever.
By the end of the 1700s many crimes were punishable by the death penalty; this was known as the Bloody Code. In the 1800s, after much reform of the prison system took place, hard labour was introduced to prisons throughout the country.
Today both prisons offer many tours, activities and events to suit all interests and tastes.
Our Guided Tours bring the prison to life with no holds barred and our Ex-Officers with encyclopaedic knowledge of the building and those that were incarcerated here, share real stories and experiences. Self-Guided Tours offer visitors the time to explore and discover at their own leisure with plenty of information points throughout the site and ‘CELLfie’ opportunities to have ‘mugshots’ taken.
Visit for ghost tours, escape rooms, and the on-site cafes. At Shrewsbury, you can go down into the Georgian Tunnels located below the prison, where many Georgian prisoners would have been packed into a small dark space with improper living standards.
Both sites are proud to hold a Tripadvisor Travellers’s Choice Award for 2022 and for previous years, meaning millions of Tripadvisor travellers place this attraction in the top 10% worldwide.