Author Archives: christopherimpey

Harty Henry

Harty Henry came before the Surrey magistrates in August 1823 charged with stealing a hat and two umbrellas from the Nag’s head in Southwark.  A clerk, Robert Sharp, gave evidence: I was going into my master’s counting house.  I met … Continue reading

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Brixton For Sale

In 1852, overcrowded and delapidated, Brixton prison was put up for sale.  It would be replaced as the Surrey house of correction by a new prison in Wandsworth. The buildings were sold late in the summer.  But it was to … Continue reading

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The Surgeon

William Gardner had been the surgeon at Brixton from its beginning. His duties required him to visit the prison every day, see every prisoner at least twice a week, visit all sick prisoners in the infirmary every day and to … Continue reading

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A House in the Country

One of the magistrates at the court in Wandsworth, George Clive, observed a worrying trend in the cases brought before him during the mid-1840s.  Numerous people, it seemed, were committing offences in the Surrey workhouses with the express intent of … Continue reading

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Bad Children, Bad Parents

Children are expensive; in the early Victorian period parents would go to extreme measures to get them off their hands. In May 1836 John Mitchell brought his 14 year old stepson, Frederick Payne, before the Surrey magistrates, alleging the boy … Continue reading

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The Exercise Yard

The journalist Henry Mayhew visited Brixton in the 1850s, when the prison was reserved for convict women.  He wrote this about the exercise (then known as ‘airing’) yards: The airing yards at this prison have little of the bare gravel … Continue reading

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The Execution Shed

In 1783 the gallows at Tyburn were moved to Newgate – the prison which had loomed over London for six centuries.  Over a thousand executions took place both inside and outside its walls until it closed in 1902. Following Newgate’s … Continue reading

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