Ancestry UK

Town Gaol and Lock-up, West Looe, Cornwall

The West Looe Town Gaol

During the English Commonwealth, the church of St Nicholas, on Hannafore Road, West Looe, was desecrated and as was converted into a guildhall. In the reign of Charles II, it was again used as a place of worship but subsequently reverted to secular use as a guildhall and as a prison, complete with a 'scolding cage'.

In 1818, it was described as a 'Dark House' — a common gaol for felons, and place of security for debtors. In 1829, however, it was reported that:

No instance is known of a Debtor being confined in the said Prison within time of living memory. Sometimes indeed Prisoners for Felonies or Misdemeanors are for an hour or two, previous to removal to the County Gaol, placed in this Prison for safe custody, and this is the only use of the Prison at present, and though it is a small place, it is large enough for the purposes now wanted

In 1835, the prison was said to consist of "two cells without day-room or yard, and is only fit to be used as a lock-up house."

The prison ceased operation in about 1850. The building subsequently reverted to use as a church.


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