Ancestry UK

Town Gaol, Wallingford, Berkshire

There was a prison at Wallingford Castle from the early 13th century, probably within the outer bailey. In 1314-15, the Berkshire County Gaol was removed from Wallingford to Windsor. In 1326, the year in which Maurice, the third Lord Berkeley, died a prisoner in Wallingford Gaol after being imprisoned by Edward II. A new prison was built in 1438-40. The castle was largely destroyed in 1653, although a brick building within the castle walls continued in occasional use as a prison until the eighteenth century.

A town gaol occupied occupied part of the town hall, erected on the Market Place in 1670. In 1784, John Howard described the gaol as: 'Two rooms under the council-chamber: one of them, called the Bailiff's Ward, is for debtors; the other (planked round) is for felons. Under them is a large dungeon, filled with market benches for stalls, &c.' In On 1 November 1776, there was one prisoner, described as a deserter. On two of Howard's three subsequent visits, the prison was empty, but had one inmate on 22 April 1779.

In 1835, it was reported that 'there is a Gaol for the confinement of offenders before commitment, and a debtor's ward; but no debtor has been confined for the last 40 years. Prisoners under sentence are transmitted to the county gaol.'

The prison appears to have continued in use until at least the 1860s.


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  • 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.


  • Prison Oracle - resources those involved in present-day UK prisons.
  • GOV.UK - UK Government's information on sentencing, probation and support for families.