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Recovering the 19th Century Penal Landscape

July 6, 2018
Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice, The Open University

Smith Cooper Grand Jury Room
National Justice Museum
Nottingham NG1 1HN
United Kingdom

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How many prisons were there in the 19th century? Where were they located? How did they relate to each other?

The penal system in 19th century England was incredibly complicated. It comprised two types of prisons, convict prisons and local prisons. While convict prisons were under the direct control of the Home Office, local prisons were, until the 1877 Prisons Act, managed by a whole host of different local authorities, from counties and boroughs to liberties and even cathedrals. Moreover, included among convict prisons were penitentiaries, public works prisons and prison hulks (aka floating prisons!). And among local prisons were gaols, bridewells and lock ups.

This complexity has meant that penal historians have confined their work to studies of either convict prisons or local prisons, and even more typically, to case studies of individual institutions. There remain big gaps in our knowledge. Simply put, we don’t even know how many prisons existed in nineteenth-century England. marks the first stage in recovering that lost landscape. The resource contains key information on, as well as lists of surviving archives of nearly 850 English prisons used to confine those accused and convicted of crime in the period 1800-1899. This one-day conference marks the launch of this new resource by exploring how the data can be used and developed, by academic and non-academic historians alike, to transform our understanding of 19th century imprisonment.

The event is free to attend, but places are limited. To register attendance, of for further information, please contact:, and/or Registration closes 22 June 2018. When registering, please provide full name, affiliation, any special dietary requirements and any other special requirements.

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June 22, 2018, 11:00pm BST

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