Monument record 0045200000 - HM PRISON, BIERTON HILL


Nineteenth century prison in Aylesbury built in 1844-7, formerly the County Gaol and now a Young Offender Institution

Protected Status/Designation

  • Listed Building (II) 1117983: Prison gate, former governor's house and chaplain's house, HM Prison Aylesbury (Aylesbury Gaol)


Type and Period (1)

  • PRISON (19th Century - 1800 AD to 1899 AD)


The County Gaol was built in 1845 to replace premises behind County Hall. It provided cells for 250 prisoners, and had a chapel with 274 seats arranged so that prisoners could see the chaplain but not each other (B2).
After 1845 persons capitally convicted at Aylesbury were executed at the prison and the bodies buried in the prison grounds (B4).
Aylesbury Prison was built between 1844-47 using model plans drawn up by Joshua Jebb, who became the first Surveyor General of Prisons in 1844. The architect was Charles James Pierce. It was built as a male local prison with separate female and debtor's wings. A wing was added in 1902 (the State Inebriate Reformatory) (B8).
Buildings report dated Jun 1995 - Sep 1997 held at NMR (B7).
Aylesbury Gaol holds a significant place in the campaign for women’s suffrage. It housed a number of suffragette prisoners arrested during mass demonstrations by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), a militant suffrage organisation whose members used direct action in support of their campaign for the vote. In March 1912 suffragettes carried out a mass window-smashing raid in London. Holloway Gaol, the usual prison for suffragettes, could not cope with the numbers arrested, so many were sent to Aylesbury. On 5 April, the prisoners began a secret hunger strike which went undetected for several days, and when the authorities found out, hunger strikers were fed by force, although four were released on health grounds.
The Aylesbury hunger strike spread to other prisons to become the largest mass hunger strike undertaken by suffragettes, with over eighty prisoners taking part. Aylesbury became the focus for protests against forcible feeding and on 13 April 1912 over 100 protesters marched on the gaol to hold a meeting at the gates. Suffragette prisoners waved handkerchiefs from their cell windows.
The list entry was amended in 2018 as part of the centenary commemorations of the 1918 Representation of the People Act (B5).

Sources (10)

  • <1>SBC5624 Bibliographic reference: Robert Gibbs. 1882. BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, A LIST OF LOCAL OCCURENCES VOL 4 (1841-80) P42. Vol 4.
  • <2>SBC14465 Bibliographic reference: SHEAHAN PP75-76.
  • <3>SBC509 Verbal communication: ARP 1977 (JULY) PERS COMM.
  • <4>SBC1995 Article in serial: 1962. BUCKS ADVERTISER (16TH FEB 1962) LETTER FROM G A OSTERFIELD (COPY IN CAS FILE 4701).
  • <5>SBC3590 Bibliographic reference: DoE. 1973. LIST OF BUILDINGS OF SPECIAL ARCHITECTURAL OR HISTORIC INTEREST. p1; amended 31st May 2018.
  • <6>SBC4963 Unpublished document: Mike Farley (BCM). 1992. AUGUST 1992 FIELD VISIT (SEE NOTE FILED).
  • <7>SBC23358 Unpublished document: English Heritage. 2006. NMR Buildings Reports. BF093732.
  • <8>SBC23600 Unpublished document: Albion Archaeology. 2010. Block D, Segregation Unit, YOI Aylesbury: Building Recording.
  • <9>SBC25314 Bibliographic reference: Colin Cartwright. 2013. Burning to Get the Vote: The Women's Suffrage Movement in Central Buckinghamshire, 1904-1914. pp116-135.
  • <10>SBC23108 Bibliographic reference: Allan Brodie, Jane Groom & James O Davies. 2002. English Prisons: An Architectural History. pp97,98,99,100,102,105,112,115,116,124,256;figs4.16,4.20.


Grid reference Centred SP 82839 14340 (413m by 349m)
Civil Parish AYLESBURY, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire

Finds (0)

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Record last edited

Aug 4 2020 2:54PM

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