When and where we meet:

Every 2nd Monday of the month at 7.30pm in the Memorial Hall, Leigh on Mendip

Visitors welcome!

For more details contact Mary Mears

or leave a comment here on our blog

Leigh on Mendip Community Coffee Mornings

1st Monday of the month in the Memorial Hall from 9.45 to 10.45am.

Come along for a coffee and a chat!



Monday, 15 January 2018

JAIL BREAK????

Jane organised this outing for WI members, partners and friends. 


We visited behind those very high walls of Shepton Mallet prison on Saturday 13 January 2018.  Our guided tour was with one of the ex-prison officers.  The 2 hours we were there gave us the opportunity to “walk in the footsteps of prisoners who have been residents of those wings during the last 400 years”.  We learnt a lot about is history dating back to 1610 – the daily life, visits, prison work, the gym and the Chapel.  



In the early years all prisoners, men, women and children, were held together in reportedly dreadful conditions. The gaoler was not paid, instead making an income from fees from his prisoners. The buildings were later extended and the high wall surrounding it built.  


In the early 19th Century, a large treadwheel was built within the prison on which men who had been sentenced to hard labour would serve their punishment. The wheel was used to power a grain mill outside the prison wall.The prison closed for a few years in 1930 due to under use.  Later it was run as an American military prison.   

It returned to British militaryuse and soldiers held there included the Kray twins who were serving out their national service after absconding.

During the War it was also used to house various items, believed to have included the Domesday Book & Magna Carta.


The buildings were again modernised towards the end of the 20th Century and the prisoners were given the opportunity to study and learn a trade or to be employed in the kitchens.  When it finally closed in March 2013 it was the oldest working prison in the United Kingdom.





Various events can now be booked there, such as parties, hen nights, etc but we weren’t sure about staying overnight!  It was also recently used for some of the filming for Paddington 2!  



There is much talk about the area being developed into housing so this was a wonderful opportunity to view it as a Prison.


I'm pleased to say that at the end of the tour we were all allowed to go home!


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