Execution sites from the late 18th century to abolition in 1964.

 

In the 18th century every county had a place of execution, normally at or near the county (Assize) town and often just outside the town on the west side. In some cases there were two places of execution in a county (see below). It is not always possible to be specific on the exact whereabouts of gallows at this time as executions tend to be reported as having been carried out “at the usual place” without actually specifying where that was. Some counties may have had permanent gallows - especially those with regular executions (e.g. Devon, Kent, Lancashire and Somerset) - others, with infrequent executions, would erect a gallows for each occasion, or in some cases use a portable gallows. Burnings at the stake would normally take place at the same location as hangings.  Executions could also be carried out at or near the crime scene if ordered by the judge in particular cases.

 

In London by 1783 the use of Tyburn as the principal place of execution ended, partially due to protests from residents and the fact that it was a cause of congestion. London & Middlesex executions were transferred to Newgate prison from which the procession to Tyburn had previously started out.
Other cities and towns followed suit and it became general policy to move executions from an open area near to the Assize town or city to a location at or near the County/City/Town Gaol (or other suitable building which housed cells for prisoners, e.g. Aylesbury County Hall or Durham Court House). These moves were finally completed in 1831 when Whitley Common ceased to be used and the final execution at Coventry (Mary Ball in 1849) took place in Cuckoo Lane, outside County Hall. By 1805 about a third of the shire jurisdictions had made this change.

By the end of the 18th century new county gaols were being constructed and this process continued into the early part of the 19th century until every county had one.  Executions now took place either on a gallows erected outside the walls or, more commonly on the flat roof of the prison gatehouse.  In all cases these gallows were either dismantled after use or drawn inside the prison yard.  These gallows were referred to as being of the “New Drop” pattern and typically had trap door(s). In the period 1836 - 1868 there were 350 executions in England & Wales, an average of 11 a year, so they were rare events in many counties. It should be noted that there was a major prison rebuilding programme in progress during 1840’s and 1850’s and in some cases the prison moved site and in other cases was rebuilt on the same site.

With the ending of public hangings in 1868 most prisons continued to use the existing gallows, set up in one of the yards or within a purpose built execution shed.  Bodmin, Derby, Exeter, Newgate and Warwick prisons, for example, had sheds whilst Durham and Gloucester had the gallows set up in a yard. These arrangements persisted into the early part of the 20th century, with a brick lined pit being constructed with the advent of the “long drop” method of hanging from around 1875. Many of the smaller prisons had very few executions and it was decided to construct purpose built execution suites in a few of the prisons serving larger population areas.  This works seems to have been largely undertaken during the First World War. By the second quarter of the 20th century the following prisons all had execution suites : Armley (Leeds), Bedford, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Dorchester, Durham, Gloucester, Winchester, Maidstone, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Lincoln, London (Pentonville & Holloway), Oxford, Norwich, Shrewsbury, Swansea and Surrey (Wandsworth). Those prisons that did not have execution suites ceased to carry out hangings and all executions now took place at the prisons listed.

 

England.

Bedfordshire

Old place of execution

Bedford Gaol in public

Bedford Gaol in private

Bedford - Gallows Corner Bromham Road

First

01/08/1801

First

03/04/1871

Last used 22/03/1794

Last

31/03/1868

Last

04/04/1962

Berkshire

Old place of execution

County Gaol Reading in public

Reading Gaol in private

Reading - Earley Common

First

01/08/1795

First

12/03/1877

Last used 20/08/1791

Last

14/03/1862

Last

04/02/1913

Bristol City

Gallows Acre, at the top of St. Michael's Hill, Bristol

New Gaol in public

Horfield prison in private

First

13/04/1821

First

11/04/1889

Last used 26/04/1816

Last

20/04/1849

Last

17/12/1963

Buckinghamshire

Old place of execution

Aylesbury County Hall
in public

 

Unknown site at Aylesbury

First

23/03/1810

Last used 21/03/1806

Last

28/03/1845

 

County Gaol Aylesbury in public

Aylesbury prison in private

First

24/03/1854

First

28/03/1870

Last

05/08/1864

Last

10/05/1880

Cambridgeshire

Old place of execution

New County Gaol in public
(on the same site)

New County Gaol in private

Cambridge - Castle Hill
County
Gaol

First

05/04/1817

First

28/06/1898

Last used 08/08/1812

Last

02/01/1864

Last

04/11/1913

Cambridge Town

 

 

Borough Gaol in private

First

14/12/1876

Last

14/12/1876

Cheshire

Old place of execution Boughton near Chester
Last used 09/05/1801

Chester City Gaol in public

Chester City Gaol in private

Chester North Gate Gaol

First

06/05/1809

First

07/04/1877

Last used 03/10/1801

Last

23/03/1866

Last

08/05/1883

 

 

Knutsford Gaol in private

First

22/02/1886

Last

19/03/1912

Cornwall

Old place of execution

Bodmin Gaol in public

Bodmin Gaol in private

Bodmin Moor
Last used 31/03/1815

First

12/08/1820

First

15/08/1878

Launceston
Last used 02/04/1821

Last

18/08/1862

Last

20/07/1909

Coventry City

Old place of execution

City Gaol in public

City Gaol in private

Whitley Common

First

09/08/1849

N/A

N/A

Last used 11/08/1831

Last

09/08/1849

 

 

Cumberland

Old place of execution

Carlisle Gaol in public

Carlisle Gaol in private

Carlisle - Low Sands

First

18/09/1813

First

19/12/1876

Last used 21/11/1809

Last

15/03/1862

Last

22/03/1892

Derbyshire

Old place of execution

Derby Gaol (Friar Gate) in public

Derby Gaol (Vernon St.) in public

Derby - Nuns Green

First

10/04/1812

First

12/04/1833

Last used 03/04/1807

Last

08/04/1825

Last

11/04/1862

 

 

Derby Gaol (Vernon St.) in private

First

04/08/1873

Last

16/07/1907

Devonshire

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Exeter in public

Exeter prison in private

Heavitree, near Exeter (County)

First

20/03/1795

First

11/10/1869

Last used 04/04/1794

Last

15/08/1866

Last

27/07/1928

Exeter City

Old place of execution

 

 

Magdalen Road  Exeter

Last used 13/11/1818

Dorset

Old place of execution

Dorchester Gaol in public

Dorchester Gaol in private

Dorchester - Amphitheatre

First

17/03/1794

First

12/08/1869

Last used 10/08/1792

Last

27/03/1863

Last

24/07/1941

Durham

Old place of execution

Durham Court House in public

Durham Gaol in private

Durham - Dryburn

First

17/08/1816

First

22/03/1869

Last used 12/08/1805

Last

16/03/1865

Last

17/12/1958

Essex

Old place of execution

Moulsham Gaol, Chelmsford
in public

Springfield Gaol, Chelmsford
in public

Chelmsford - Writtle Road till
17/08/1781.

First

07/03/1785

First

10/12/1827

Last

28/07/1826

Last

26/01/1865

Another site near Chelmsford last used 05/08/1784

 

Springfield Gaol, in private

First

24/04/1871

Last

04/11/1914

Gloucestershire

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Gloucester in public

County Gaol, Gloucester in private

Over, near Gloucester

First

14/04/1792

First

08/01/1872

Last used 16/04/1790

Last

27/08/1864

Last

07/06/1939

Hampshire

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Winchester in public

County Gaol, Winchester in private

Winchester - Gallows Hill

First

24/03/1821

First

06/09/1869

Last used 08/03/1819

Last

24/12/1867

Last

17/12/1963

Herefordshire

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Hereford in public

County Gaol, Hereford in private

Hereford - Gallows Tumps,

Last used 21/08/1789

First

06/08/1792

First

23/11/1885

St Olave’s St, Hereford for an

execution 02/04/1790

Last

05/04/1864

Last

15/12/1903

Hertfordshire

Old place of execution

 

 

Hertford - Gallows Hill, Ware
Road
, last used 19/03/1800

Then field opposite Hertford
Gaol

Hertford Gaol in public

Hertford Gaol in private

First

14/08/1816

First

10/04/1876

Last

13/03/1839

Last

10/04/1876

Huntingdonshire

Old place of execution

County Gaol, in public

County Gaol, in private

Huntingdon Mill Common

First

04/04/1829

First

25/11/1878

Last used 01/09/1827

Last

04/04/1829

Last

25/11/1878

Kent

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Maidstone
in public

County Gaol, Maidstone in private

Maidstone - Penenden Heath

First

01/08/1831

First

13/08/1868

Last used 24/12/1830

Last

30/04/1868

Last

08/04/1930

Lancashire

Old place of execution

Lancaster Castle (County Gaol)
in public

Lancaster Castle (County Gaol)
in private

Lancaster Moor

First

19/04/1800

First

16/08/1875

Last used 27/04/1799

Last

25/03/1865

Last

15/11/1910

 

Salford Gaol in public

Manchester Strangeways prison
in private

First

25/08/1866

First

29/03/1869

Last

04/04/1868

Last

13/08/1964

Kirkdale Gaol, Liverpool
in public

Kirkdale Gaol, Liverpool
in private

First

24/08/1835

First

10/01/1870

Last

14/09/1867

Last

20/08/1891

 

Walton Gaol, Liverpool
in private

First

14/03/1887

Last

13/08/1964

Leicestershire

Old place of execution

Leicester House of Correction
in public

Borough Gaol Highcross Leicester

Site unknown ?  (1)

First

06/09/1813

First

20/12/1876

Last used

Last

26/03/1832

Last

31/07/1877

 

County Gaol, Leicester
in public

County Gaol, Leicester
in private

First

20/04/1829

First

27/11/1877

Last

25/07/1856

Last

17/11/1953

Lincolnshire

Old place of execution

Lincoln Castle Cobb Tower (County Gaol) in public

Lincoln Castle (County Gaol)
in private

Lincoln Castle - near West Gate

First

15/03/1817

First

28/12/1868

Last used 01/04/1814

Last

   05/08/1859

Last

26/03/1877

 

 

County Gaol, Lincoln

First

19/02/1883

Last

27/01/1961

London & Middlesex

Old place of execution

Newgate prison in public

Newgate prison in private

Tyburn

First

09/12/1783

First

08/09/1868

Last used 07/11/1783

Last

26/05/1868

Last

06/05/1902

 

Tower of London in private
(20th century)

Pentonville prison in private

First

06/11/1914

First

30/09/1902

Last

14/08/1941

Last

06/07/1961

 

Holloway prison in private

First

03/02/1903

Last

13/07/1955

Monmouthshire

Old place of execution

Monmouth Gaol in public

Usk Gaol in private

Monmouth,
(precise site unknown)

First

24/03/1843

First

24/08/1874

Last used 06/04/1835

Last

23/08/1859

Last

23/03/1922

Norfolk

Old places of execution

Norwich Castle (County Gaol)
in public

Norwich Castle (County Gaol)
in private

Norwich - Castle Hill

Last used 12/04/1800

And Gallows Hill Thetford

First

15/08/1801

First

01/05/1876

Last used 10/04/1824

Last

 26/08/1867

Last

13/12/1886

 

 

Norwich prison in private

First

12/07/1898

Last

19/07/1951

Norwich City

Old place of execution

City Gaol in public

City Gaol in private

Norwich, Castle Ditch Meadows

First

17/08/1829

First

20/04/1869

Last used 24/08/1822

Last

17/08/1829

Last

20/04/1869

The City Gaol had two different locations - up to 1826 opposite the still-existing Guildhall in Gaol Street, then moving to St Giles Gates in Heigham, until closure in May 1878

Northamptonshire

Old place of execution

Northampton (County Gaol)
in public

Northampton (County Gaol)
in private

Northampton racecourse

First

19/03/1819

First

31/07/1871

Last used 27/03/1818

Last

16/03/1852

Last

30/03/1874

 

 

Borough Gaol (later Northampton prison) in private

First

12/11/1878

Last

10/11/1914

Northumberland

Old places of execution

County Gaol, Morpeth in public

County Gaol, Morpeth in private

Morpeth - Fair Moor

First

18/03/1846

First

23/12/1875

Last used 20/03/1822

Last

17/03/1847

Last

28/03/1876

Newcastle West Gate

 

Newcastle prison in private

Last used 16/08/1805

First

16/11/1886

 

Last

26/11/1919

Newcastle upon Tyne Town

Newcastle Town Moor

Newcastle Town gaol in public

Newcastle Town gaol in private

Last used 23/08/1844

First

24/08/1850

First

22/12/1875

 

Last

14/03/1863

Last

22/12/1875

Nottinghamshire

Old place of execution Nottingham - Gallows Hill

County Gaol, Nottingham
in public

Old County Gaol, Nottingham
in private

On Mansfield Road

First

01/02/1832

First

21/11/1877

Last used 02/04/1827

Last

10/08/1864

Last

12/08/1878

 

House of Correction Nottingham
in public

House of Correction Nottingham
(Borough Gaol) in private

First

24/08/1831

First

13/02/1878

Last

30/03/1836

Last

22/02/1887

 

New County Gaol, Nottingham
(Bagthorpe prison) in private

First

15/08/1881

Last

10/04/1928

Oxfordshire

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Oxford in public

County Gaol, Oxford in private

Oxford - Castle Green/
Castle Gateway

First

21/08/1797

First

18/03/1872

Last used 29/07/1793

Last

24/03/1863

Last

12/08/1952

Rutland

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Oakham in public

County Gaol, Oakham in private

Oakham - Mount Pleasant

First

05/04/1813

First

N/A

Last used 03/08/1801

Last

25/03/1833

Last

N/A

Shropshire

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Shrewsbury
in public

County Gaol, Shrewsbury
in private

Shrewsbury - Mere Heath

First

15/08/1795

First

26/07/1886

Last used 10/08/1793

Last

09/04/1868

Last

09/02/1961

Somerset

Old places of execution

County Gaol, Ilchester in public

New County Gaol Taunton in public

Ilchester - Gallows Field

Last used 11/09/1811

First

21/04/1813

First

04/09/1844

Last

04/09/1839

Last

29/08/1867

Taunton Stone Gallows
Last used 09/04/1810

 

County Gaol Taunton in private

First

26/08/1872

 

Last

25/02/1884

Note : Shepton Mallet was also used for US Military executions during World War 2

Shepton Mallet prison in private

First

13/03/1889

Last

02/03/1926

Staffordshire

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Stafford in public

County Gaol, Stafford in private

Sandyford, near Stafford

First

05/08/1793

First

12/08/1872

Last used 06/04/1793

Last

07/08/1866

Last

10/03/1914

Suffolk

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Ipswich in public

County Gaol, Ipswich in private

Rushmere, near Ipswich

First

15/08/1795

First

03/12/1879

Last used 03/04/1793

Last

14/04/1863

Last

27/11/1924

Bury St. Edmunds Tayfen

Bury St Edmunds Gaol in public

Bury St Edmunds Gaol in private

(by North Gate)

First

23/04/1800

First

N/A

Last used 30/08/1797

Last

22/04/1851

Last

N/A

Surrey

Old place of execution

Horsemonger Lane gaol in public

Horsemonger Lane gaol in private

Kennington Common

First

04/04/1800

First

11/10/1870

Last used 05/08/1799

Last

15/10/1867

Last

14/08/1877

 

 

Wandsworth prison in private

First

08/10/1878

Last

08/09/1961

Sussex

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Horsham in public

 

Horsham Common

First

24/08/1822

Last used 19/08/1820

Last

06/04/1844

 

Lewes prison in public

Lewes prison in private

First

16/12/1831

First

18/01/1869

Last

10/04/1866

Last

28/07/1914

Warwickshire

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Warwick in public

County Gaol, Warwick in private

Warwick - Gallows Hill

First

unknown

First

07/01/1873

Last used unknown

Last

06/04/1863

Last

15/12/1908

 

Birmingham Washwood Heath in public

Birmingham Winson Green prison in private

First

??

First

17/03/1885

Last

19/04/1802

Last

20/11/1962

Westmorland

Old place of execution

No further executions

Appleby - Gallows Hill

Last used 23/03/1829

Wiltshire

Old place of execution

Fisherton Anger Gaol in public

Devizes Goal in public

Fisherton Anger Salisbury

First

27/03/1798

First

20/04/1824

Last used 27/07/1796

Last

05/08/1834

Last

11/04/1860

 

Wilton Goal Salisbury in public

Devizes Goal in private

First

29/07/1823

First

30/01/1882

Last

27/03/1855

Last

17/11/1903

Worcestershire

Old place of execution

County Gaol, Worcester in public

County Gaol, Worcester in private

Worcester - Red Hill

First

20/03/1812

First

12/08/1872

Last used 28/07/1809

Last

02/01/1863

Last

03/12/1919

Yorkshire

Old place of execution

York Castle Gaol in public

York Castle Gaol in private

York - Knavesmire racecourse

First

28/08/1802

First

18/08/1874

Last used 29/08/1801

Last

04/04/1868

Last

22/12/1896

 

Armley prison, Leeds in public

Armley prison, Leeds in private

First

10/09/1864

First

21/10/1875

Last

10/09/1864

Last

29/06/1961

Hull prison, Leeds in private

Wakefield prison in private

First

25/03/1902

First

10/04/1906

Last

19/12/1934

Last

29/12/1915

 

Wales.

Anglesey

Old place of execution

Beaumaris Gaol in public

Beaumaris Gaol in private

Beaumaris - Gallows Point

First

15/09/1830

First

N/A

Last used May 1786

Last

04/04/1862

Last

N/A

Breconshire

Old place of execution

Brecon Gaol in public

Brecon Gaol in private

Llanfais near Brecon

First

28/08/1789

First

N/A

Last used 10/09/1756

Last

23/04/1861

Last

N/A

Caernarvonshire

Old place of execution

Caernarfon Gaol in public

Caernarfon Gaol in private

Morfa Seiont, near Caernarfon

First

10/08/1853

First

03/08/1898

Last used 04/09/1822

Last

10/08/1853

Last

15/02/1910

Cardiganshire

Old place of execution

Cardigan Gaol in public

Cardigan Gaol in private

Banc-y-Warren, hill by Cardigan

First

13/10/1821

First

N/A

Last used 13/04/1792

Last

08/04/1822

Last

N/A

Carmarthenshire

Old place of execution

Carmarthen Gaol in public

Carmarthen Gaol in private

Pensarn, near Carmarthen

First

23/05/1818

First

13/03/1888

Last used 26/04/1817

Last

21/09/1829

Last

25/11/1904

Denbighshire

Old place of execution

Ruthin Gaol in public

Ruthin Gaol in private

Galltegfa, about 1 mile from
Ruthin on road to Clocaenog

First

unknown

First

17/02/1903

Last used unknown

Last

15/04/1822

Last

17/02/1903

Flintshire

Old place of execution

Flint Gaol in public

Flint Gaol in private

Flint Marshes
(site of future Gaol)

First

unknown

First

N/A

Last used unknown

Last

18/04/1840

Last

N/A

Glamorganshire

Old place of execution

Cardiff Gaol in public

Cardiff Gaol in private

Cardiff - Little Heath

First

13/08/1831

First

25/04/1876

Last used 18/04/1810

Last

25/07/1857

Last

03/09/1952

Stallingdown, Cowbridge

Swansea Gaol in public

Swansea Gaol in private

Last used 20/04/1787

First

20/03/1858

First

01/03/1886

 

Last

12/04/1866

Last

06/05/1958

Merionethshire

Old place of execution

Dolgellau Gaol in public

Dolgellau Gaol in private

Cae-y-grogben, on hillside

overlooking Dollgellau

First

17/04/1813

First

23/11/1877

Last used 02/04/1785

Last

06/05/1813

Last

23/11/1877

Montgomeryshire

Old place of execution

Montgomery Gaol in public

Montgomery Gaol in private

on hillside overlooking
Montgomery

First

16/08/1830

First

N/A

Last used 13/09/1821

Last

16/08/1830

Last

N/A

Pembrokeshire

Old place of execution

Haverfordwest Gaol in public

Haverfordwest Gaol in private

Haverfordwest - Bowling Green

First

13/04/1811

First

N/A

Last used 06/04/1801

Last

23/04/1821

Last

N/A

Radnorshire

Old place of execution

Presteigne Gaol in public

Presteigne Gaol in private

Presteigne - Gallows Lane

First

22/04/1822

First

N/A

Last used 13/04/1805

Last

22/04/1822

Last

N/A

 

Notes

1) Leicestershire executions are recorded as taking place at Red Hill, Birstall in 1801, on Ashby Road in 1803; and at Dane Hills Tollgate in 1813. Either one of these may be the “usual site” or a “one-off site”.

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