Ancestry UK

Borough Gaol and Lock-up House, Bishop's Castle, Shropshire

Bishop's Castle was given the right to operate a Borough Gaol in Elizabethan times, although this option may subsequently have been replaced by the right to commit individuals to the county gaol at Shrewsbury. That notwithstanding, a gaol was established in the town hall on the High Street, which was erected in about 1765.

In 1784, John Howard reported:

This prison is only two rooms at the town house. One, called the dungeon, has the windows towards the street, a dirt floor and no fire-place: the other for debtors is the jury room. 1788, Feb. 8, No Prisoners.

By 1835, the gaol was being used as a short-term lock-up. A report in that year noted that:

There is a dungeon, consisting of one cell, in which prisoners are occasionally confined for a night or two, till they can be brought before the borough justices. It is a damp, cold place under the town hall, built nearly a century ago. For the confinement of debtors there is a room adjoining the town hall; instances have occurred, but rarely, of its being so used for short periods

The prison is thought to have been closed in about 1836. The Town Hall building is now used as an event venue and art gallery. The property is now IOP2. LU by 1830s.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • No individual records identified for this establishment — any information welcome.
  • The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU. Has a wide variety of crime and prison records going back to the 1770s, including calendars of prisoners, prison registers and criminal registers.
  • Find My Past has digitized many of the National Archives' prison records, including prisoner-of-war records, plus a variety of local records including Manchester, York and Plymouth. More information.
  • Prison-related records on Ancestry UK include Prison Commission Records, 1770-1951, and local records from London, Swansea, Gloucesterhire and West Yorkshire. More information.
  • The Genealogist also has a number of National Archives' prison records. More information.