Life in the Prison

Life in the Prison

Life in Georgian England was far harsher than it is today – so you can imagine that life behind bars was even worse.

The Prison was divided into different floors, with the debtors above and the felons in the worst conditions below. They would sleep twelve or fifteen to a cell, “which causes very faint and nauseous smells and violent sicknesses”. The poorest of them would live on bread and water, sleep on bare boards, and wear nothing but rags in the unheated cells.

And the prison was a profit-making business. The staff – the Turnkey and his men, even the Keeper (the equivalent of today’s Governor) – were there to make money.

Prisoners would have to pay for their beds and food. And if the Turnkey forced prisoners to buy their food from him, with a handsome mark-up, he made even more profit.

The Prison was a place to hold men and women awaiting their trial or punishment. If you survived the terrible conditions there were three ways out; be found ‘not guilty’ and released, be transported overseas as convict labour… or the gallows.

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