Information for record number MWA5518:
C18 Gaol, Northgate Street, Warwick

Summary The 18th century County Gaoland house of correction and abandoned in favour of another site in 1860. It is now part of the County Council buildings in Northgate Street, Warwick.
What Is It?  
Type: Gaol, House Of Correction, Dungeon, Barracks, Local Government Office, Doric Column
Period: Imperial - Modern (1697 AD - 1930 AD)
Where Is It?  
Parish: Warwick
District: Warwick, Warwickshire
Grid Reference: SP 28 65
(Data represented on this map shows the current selected record as a single point, this is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent an accurate or complete representation of archaeological sites or features)
Level of Protection National - Conservation Area (Grade: )
Old SMR PrefRef (Grade: )
Listed Building (Grade: I)
Sites & Monuments Record

Source Number  

1 The gaol (PRN 1938) was much enlarged by Thomas Johnson between 1779 and 1783. The facade is considered 'remarkable as one of the earliest attempts to adapt Greek Doric to the purpose of an English public building'. A new house of correction was built by Henry Couchman between 1784 and 1787. Further work was done on the gaol in 1796-8, and constant repairs were needed after 1798. The buildings were abandoned in 1860 in favour of a new prison at the Cape. The three arches which lead through the centre of the range were inserted in 1862. The Northgate Street front was adapted as part of new buildings for the County Council in 1930-2.
3 The former county gaol by Thomas Johnson, and Henry Couchman's extension to Barrack Street, are both of sandstone ashlar. Each remains as a façade, into which are built the 1930s ranges by A C Bunch, which are in red brick with sandstone dressings, under slate roofs, with metal-framed casement windows. PLAN: The complex occupies an irregularly-shaped site bounded by Northgate Street to the north, Barrack Street to the west and the Market Place and Old Square to the south. The 1930s buildings are ranged around two quadrangles with a north-south axis; the south-eastern range of the southern quadrangle dates from the 1960s. The other 1950s and 1960s ranges run along the western end of Barrack Street and front the Market Place and Old Square, with the council chamber set to the rear of the 1950s office range. EXTERIOR: The main elevation to Northgate Street is Thomas Johnson's former gaol, a classical building using a Greek Doric order. The range is of eleven bays and two storeys, the three central bays projecting slightly forward and with a pediment. There are attached, full-height unfluted Doric columns between each bay, full entablature and a triglyph frieze, all set on a plain plinth. A central, round-arched carriage entrance is flanked by similar pedestrian entrances. The window openings, with moulded stone cills, house multi-paned metal casement windows. To the west of this range, on the corner with Barrack Street, a single bay is the beginning of Couchman's southern extension, running from the corner with Northgate Street and along Barrack Street. This elevation, which has two storeys and attic, is in three sections: a three-bay central entrance gateway, slightly projecting, with three round-headed arches between plain pilasters; a six-window range to the north, with metal-framed windows set into plain reveals, and a single cell door from the 18th century gaol resited as a decorative feature; and a four-window range to the south, with similar windows. The 1930s exteriors around two internal courtyards are of two storeys or two storeys and attic, in neo-Georgian style. The ranges are built in red brick set on a stone plinth with moulded stone plat bands, and have metal-framed casements with stone cills. The central section of each range is built in stone and each projects forward slightly. The entrances to the office ranges are set in two of these projecting porches; they have dentil cornices and concave-chamfered round-arched openings with large moulded keystones; one has a geometric carved design in the tympanum, and the other the bear-and-ragged-staff motif. Each has a recessed doorway flanked by elaborate Art Deco lanterns with flame decoration. The southern courtyard has an ornamental pond with a fountain, aligned on the main entrance to the office range. The northern courtyard houses a circular opening covered by a grille, lighting the dungeon below, which survives from the 1680 gaol. INTERIOR: To the interior, the stairs and public circulating areas are clad in imitation marble, and the stair and lift shaft have restrained Art Deco metalwork. Some senior officers' offices retain their original grey marble fireplaces and some original fitted furniture. The office ranges are based on corridors set along the inner courtyard with offices of various sizes opening off the corridors. These retain some original details, such as skirtings and picture rails, but are otherwise plain. Some have been altered in size. The 1680 dungeon is octagonal on plan, domed, lined in stone and brick with a cobbled floor and central drain, with timber posts for the shackling of prisoners. The dungeon is accessed from a staircase emerging within the adjacent Old Shire Hall building. HISTORY: The medieval county gaol was situated in Gerrard Street, but was abandoned in the mid 16th century; prisoners were then kept within houses until the later 17th century. A separate house of correction was also in existence from circa 1625, for the support of the poor and the reform of the indolent, rather than for the holding of prisoners. A new gaol and house of correction were built by William Hurlbutt from 1677 at the northern end of Northgate Street, with some of the buildings fronting onto Barrack Street; they were completed by about 1686, but were completely destroyed by the Great Fire of Warwick in 1694. The buildings included a deep octagonal dungeon, completed in 1680, which survived the fire and remained in existence in 2010. The site was quickly rebuilt with the buildings complete by 1697; there were ranges fronting Northgate Street and others to Barrack Street, with a house in separate ownership standing right on the corner of the two streets. This house was purchased by the county authorities circa 1775, as they were planning to rebuild parts of the gaol and wanted to enlarge the site. The gaol and house of correction were enlarged and partially rebuilt in 1779-83, to designs by Thomas Johnson (d.1800), a Warwick architect and builder. Johnson's alterations consisted of two main blocks: the first, built in 1779, was a two-storey range fronting Barrack Street, at its corner with Northgate Street, for the accommodation of debtors. The second phase, built in 1779-83, comprised the replacement of the former front range to Northgate Street with an imposing Greek Doric range which survives today. Further alterations to the buildings behind the main ranges were carried out at the same time as part of Johnson's plan, though the 17th century gaol buildings other than the main ranges were largely retained. These buildings were eventually swept away as part of a further rebuilding in the early 1790s, following the relocation of the house of correction and the approval of plans for the enlargement and improvement of the gaol by Henry Couchman, who retained all of Thomas Johnson's 18th century work; Couchman's extensions included a new wall along Barrack Street enclosing a 'court of safety', providing a buffer zone between the prison and the outside world; this is the wall which exists today running from the corner of Barrack Road and Northgate Street westwards to the gateway. Various further phases of alteration to the buildings behind Northgate Street and Barrack Street took place in the period to 1840, when it was recognised that the gaol again required expansion and improvement, and it was decided that this could not be achieved on the existing site. A new gaol was built between 1840 and 1860 on a site off Cape Road, and the prisoners were transferred out of the old buildings in that year, before they were largely demolished. All that was retained was Johnson's Northgate Street frontage, and the high wall immediately to the north onto Barrack Street, the Barrack Street entrance gate, and the range of buildings fronting Barrack Street to the west of the gate. In 1862, work began to build a new barracks on the site, to house the first regiment of the Warwickshire Militia. The Northgate Street frontage was slightly altered by the addition of a ground-level gateway to the central bay, replacing the raised ground-floor doorway. The remainder of the site to the rear of this building, and behind the wall and range fronting Barrack Street, was rebuilt to provide ranges of buildings surrounding a courtyard. The site remained in use by the military until 1930, though its use changed over the years. From 1929, parts of the site began to be given up by the War office, then in occupation, to allow its redevelopment into new County Council offices. The increasing number of functions required to be undertaken by County Councils had, by the 1920s, put pressure on the existing office facilities available, and a scheme was devised by the County architect, A C Bunch, to demolish the War office premises on the former militia barracks site, to allow a new civic centre to be built, bringing together the majority of the county's functions. Bunch's plan set out office and meeting spaces around two quadrangles, incorporating the 18th century façades to Northgate Street and Barrack Street. The windows in the Northgate Street front were enlarged, and new pedestrian entrances introduced to either side of the central gateway. Windows were inserted on two floors along the Barrack Street front. Bunch's scheme incorporated a range housing a new council chamber, committee rooms and members' facilities, but they were never built, having been delayed first by financial constraints, and later by the intervention of World War II. Council meetings were held in the Nisi Prius court of the Old Shire Hall building, in the absence of a council chamber in the new complex. The complex was further enlarged by the addition of the council chamber, its ante-room and the office range to Old Square, built to designs by the new County architect, G R Barnsley, between 1955 and 1958. In 1966, the final major phase of expansion took place, when Barnsley's plans were revised by his successor, Eric Davies. New committee and members' rooms were built on the south side of the inner quadrangle, completing the layout originally envisaged by A C Bunch in the 1930s. They adjoined the 1958 ante-room, which was extended by the addition of a sweeping staircase at its eastern end. A range to Barrack Street completed the buildings on this side of the complex, and the new entrance block, with associated hard landscaping and pond, was built facing, but slightly set back from, the Market Place. Alterations to the main entrance were made in the early years of the 21st century to allow ramped access. A small courtyard to the east and rear of the main entrance was roofed over in 2008 to provide a new centre for the public accessing council services.

Source No: 2
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: The Buildings of England: Warwickshire
Author/originator: Pevsner N and Wedgwood A
Date: 1966
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: Warwicks
Source No: 1
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Victoria County History, vol 8, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Pugh R B (ed)
Date: 1969
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 8
Source No: 3
Source Type: Statuatory List
Title: National Heritage List for England
Author/originator: Historic England
Page Number:
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designation Listed Building Buildings and structures, such as bridges, that are of architectural or historical importance are placed on a statutory list. These buildings are protected by planning and conservation acts that ensure that their special features of interest are considered before any alterations are made to them.

Depending on how important the buildings are they are classed as Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II. Grade I buildings are those of exceptional interest. Grade II* are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. Those listed as Grade II are those buildings that are regarded of special interest.
designation Conservation Area The character of a town or village is often enhanced by its streets and buildings. Where these places are of special architectural or historic interest, they are protected by being designated as a Conservation Area. Conservation Areas vary greatly and can range from historic town centres to country houses set in parkland. Their special characteristics come from a combination of factors including the quality of buildings, the historic layout of roads and boundaries, use of characteristic building materials, the presence of trees and street furniture. All features within the area are recognised as part of its special character. Within Conservation Areas there are greater controls over demolition, minor developments and protection of trees. back
period Modern The Modern Period, about 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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period Medieval 1066 AD to 1539 AD (the 11th century AD to the 16th century AD)

The medieval period comes after the Saxon period and before the post medieval period.

The Medieval period begins in 1066 AD.
This was the year that the Normans, led by William the Conqueror (1066 – 1087), invaded England and defeated Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex.
The Medieval period includes the first half of the Tudor period (1485 – 1603 AD), when the Tudor family reigned in England and eventually in Scotland too.

The end of the Medieval period is marked by Henry VIII’s (1509 – 1547) order for the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the years running up to 1539 AD. The whole of this period is sometimes called the Middle Ages.
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period Imperial 1751 AD to 1914 AD (end of the 18th century AD to the beginning of the 20th century AD)

This period comes after the Post Medieval period and before the modern period and starts with beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1750. It includes the second part of the Hannoverian period (1714 – 1836) and the Victorian period (1837 – 1901). The Imperial period ends with the start of the First World War in 1914.
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period modern About 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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monument SHAFT * Use only if function unknown, otherwise use specific type. back
monument HOUSE * A building for human habitation, especially a dwelling place. Use more specific type where known. back
monument SITE * Unclassifiable site with minimal information. Specify site type wherever possible. back
monument HARD * A firm beach or foreshore used for landing and loading of ships and other vessels. In more recent times hards have been reinforced with concrete. back
monument PUBLIC BUILDING * A building or group of buildings owned and operated by a governing body and often occupied by a government agency. Use specific type of building where known. back
monument FOUNTAIN * An artificial aperture from which water springs. The water supply usually came from a lake or reservoir higher up in order to ensure the necessary flow and pressure. More recently fountains have been powered by pumps. back
monument ORNAMENTAL POND * A small artificial pond of water often found in parks and gardens, for decorative purposes. back
monument BUILDING * A structure with a roof to provide shelter from the weather for occupants or contents. Use specific type where known. back
monument PRISON * An establishment where offenders are confined. Use more specific type where known. back
monument STONE * Use only where stone is natural or where there is no indication of function. back
monument ARCH * A structure over an opening usually formed of wedge-shaped blocks of brick or stone held together by mutual pressure and supported at the sides; they can also be formed from moulded concrete/ cast metal. A component; use for free-standing structure only. back
monument FLOOR * A layer of stone, brick or boards, etc, on which people tread. Use broader site type where known. back
monument FEATURE * Areas of indeterminate function. back
monument POND * A body of still water often artificially formed for a specific purpose. Use specifc type where known. back
monument BARRACKS * A building used to house members of the armed forces. back
monument DRAIN * An artificial channel for draining water or carrying it off. back
monument FACADE * Use wider site type where known. Only use term where no other part of original building survives. back
monument ROAD * A way between different places, used by horses, travellers on foot and vehicles. back
monument COURTYARD * An uncovered area, surrounded or partially surrounded by buildings. back
monument GAOL * An institution for the imprisonment of felons and debtors. back
monument CELL * A monastic enclave dependent on a mother house. back
monument COURTYARD HOUSE * A building or buildings ranged around a courtyard on at least three sides. They occur in the Iron Age, as well as being an influential plan type of house from the 15th century onwards. Index with appropriate period. back
monument GATEWAY * A substantial structure supporting or surrounding a gate. May be ornate or monumental, and have associated structures such as lodges, tollbooths, guard houses etc. back
monument SQUARE * An open space or area, usually square in plan, in a town or city, enclosed by residential and/or commercial buildings, frequently containing a garden or laid out with trees. back
monument COLUMN * Use for free standing column. back
monument CIVIC CENTRE * A building or building complex where municipal offices and other public buildings are situated. back
monument LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICE * A building which houses the administrative functions of a local authority. back
monument HOUSE OF CORRECTION * An institution for the imprisonment of vagrants and misdemeanants. back
monument ROUND * A small, Iron Age/Romano-British enclosed settlement found in South West England. back
monument DUNGEON * An underground cell, or group of cells, used for imprisonment. back
monument SHIRE HALL * A county judicial building where the Quarter Session and the Assizes for the County were held. back
monument MARKET PLACE * An area, often consisting of widened streets or a town square, where booths and stalls may be erected for public sales. back
monument GATE * A movable stucture which enables or prevents entrance to be gained. Usually situated in a wall or similar barrier and supported by gate posts. back
monument OFFICE * A building or room where business, administrative or professional activities are conducted. Use specific type where known. back
monument LIFT * A structure consisting of a box or platform for carrying goods or passengers from one level to another. Use specific type where known. back
monument WALL * An enclosing structure composed of bricks, stones or similar materials, laid in courses. Use specific type where known. back
monument GRILLE * An open grating of wrought iron, bronze or wood, forming a screen to a door, window or other opening, or used as a divider. back

* Copyright of English Heritage (1999)

English Heritage National Monuments Record