Building record MYO1747 - CASTLE MUSEUM THE FEMALE PRISON

Summary

Female prison and yard built in 1780-83 to the designs of Thomas Wilkinson and John Prince who repeated the facade design of the Court House opposite by John Carr. The prison was altered and wings added in 1802 with a podium and steps added in 1820-50 by Peter Atkinson, senior. The front of the building is constructed from sandstone ashlar with the inside of the portico rendered. The upper storeys at the rear are of red brick over the altered ground floor; inner side of left wing of painted brick, outer side cement rendered and incised to resemble ashlar; right wing of orange-red brick on outer side, inner side of red brick in English garden wall bond, with stone quoins; the rear of both wings are of ashlar with a moulded ashlar cornice beneath a brick parapet with stone coping. The prison was bought by York Corporation in 1934 and modified to house the Kirk Collection of "bygones", opening as the Castle Museum in 1938. The exercise yards at the rear were roofed at this time to form Kirkgate, constructed from re-erected fragments and facades of local buildings

Location

Grid reference SE 6058 5143 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Civil Parish York, City of York, North Yorkshire

Map

Type and Period (7)

Full Description

Formerly known as: The Old Female Prison CASTLE PRECINCT. Prison and yard, now museum. 1780-83; altered and wings added 1802; podium and steps 1820-50; modified and yard roofed over for conversion to museum in 1938. Original building by Thomas Wilkinson and John Prince repeating facade design of the Court House opposite (now the Crown Courts, qv) by John Carr: C19 alterations by Peter Atkinson, senior. MATERIALS: front of sandstone ashlar, inside of portico rendered; upper storeys at rear of red brick in stretcher bond over altered ground floor; inner side of left wing of painted brick, outer side cement rendered and incised to resemble ashlar; right wing of orange-red brick on outer side, inner side of red brick in English garden wall bond, with stone quoins; rear of both wings of ashlar with moulded ashlar cornice beneath brick parapet with stone coping. Yard wall originally of stone, built up in dark brick in English garden wall bond with flat stone coping. Roofs not visible. EXTERIOR: front of 2 storeys on low podium; pedimented tetrastyle portico 'in antis' flanked by 3-bay ranges and distyle in antis end bays, portico and end bays in giant Ionic order and breaking forward slightly. Broad flight of steps up to podium; second flight of steps to raised podium before portico. Central door of 6 raised panels within portico, flanked by blind alcoves, beneath small-paned lunettes and arcaded hoodmould on moulded impost band. At each end of hood, a small 12-pane fixed light in moulded surround inserted. Additional doors in returns, one a double door of raised panels, one of 6 flush panels. All doors in architraves of painted stone with moulded cornice hoods. First floor band of guilloche moulding beneath three radial-glazed oculi in moulded surrounds. All ground floor windows are round headed and radial glazed, those in end bays stepped back beneath moulded round arch on moulded imposts. On first floor of flanking ranges, windows are of 6 panes, and in end bays, oculi with radial glazing. First floor band of guilloche moulding continues across facade, running behind attached columns in end bays. Moulded modillion eaves cornice, breaking forward over portico and end bays, surmounted by balustraded parapet. Parapet terminated by pedestal blocks carved with garlands. Rear of prison: 3 storeys, 7 bays, with 3-storey wings
projecting at each end. Openings largely altered, but at left end of first floor 2-storey round-arched staircase window with radial glazing survives. Remaining windows are 4-pane sashes on first floor, squat 6-pane sashes on second floor, all with stone sills and plain lintels. Rear elevation to right wing, on river front, has single barred windows on ground and first floors, tripled on second floor, with plain lintels and sills. Left return: 3 storeys 8 windows. Windows are square and either barred or unequal 9-pane sashes. Eaves cornice returned at front end only. Right return: 3 storeys, 8 windows. Ground and first floors not visible: on second floor windows have cambered heads. INTERIOR: largely altered. On first floor, staircases at each end of centre range rise to adjoining wings, with slim bulbous balusters, possibly reused from communion rail of former chapel. HISTORICAL NOTE: the Prison was bought by York Corporation in 1934 and modified to house the Kirk Collection of "bygones", opening as the Castle Museum in 1938. Exercise yards at the rear were roofed at this time to form Kirkgate, constructed from re-erected fragments and facades of local buildings. (An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York: RCHME: The Defences: HMSO: 1972-: 85-6).
Listing NGR: SE6058451438

Derived from English Heritage LB download dated: 22/08/2005

NMR:

1.
5343CASTLE PRECINCT

The Female Prison (The Castle Museum)
[formerly listed as The Old Female Prison (The Castle Museum)]
SE 6051 SE 22/11514.6.54

IGV

2.
1773-7. Architect: John Carr. Of the same design as the Assize Court (q.v.) which it faces, except that it has no trophy in the pediment nor sculptured figures above it. The interior is almost entirely altered. Part of a united composition. (1)

A female prison and yard built in 1780-83 to the designs of Thomas Wilkinson and John Prince who repeated the facade design of the Court House opposite by John Carr. The prison was altered and wings added in 1802 with a podium and steps added in 1820-50 by Peter Atkinson, senior. The front of the building is constructed from sandstone ashlar with the inside of the portico rendered. The upper storeys at the rear are of red brick over the altered ground floor; inner side of left wing of painted brick, outer side cement rendered and incised to resemble ashlar; right wing of orange-red brick on outer side, inner side of red brick in English garden wall bond, with stone quoins; the rear of both wings are of ashlar with a moulded ashlar cornice beneath a brick parapet with stone coping. The prison was bought by York Corporation in 1934 and modified to house the Kirk Collection of "bygones", opening as the Castle Museum in 1938. The exercise yards at the rear were roofed at this time to form Kirkgate, constructed from re-erected fragments and facades of local buildings. (1-3)

1 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Default value used to record large numbers of archive items which are not separately catalogued. See Monument Recording Guidelines for details of use. 130-1 1112-1 City of York, 14-MAR-1997
2 An inventory of the historical monuments in the City of York. Volume II: the defences
2 copies. 1972 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England 85-86
3 Yorkshire : York and the East Riding 1995 by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Neave 192

Related objects:

BF061945 York Castle, Castle Precinct, York Includes guidebook photography of the castle and related buildings. Report BF061945/1 was written for The Law Courts of England Project - EHC01/048 and photo job 95/02032 was referred to by the Architectural Investigators during the project.
FL01196/03 York Castle - Female Prison, Debtors Prison and Assize Court Sub-file containing a set of 13 photographic prints and 3 postcards. The views are of the Assize Court, Debtors Prison and Womens Prison of York Castle. All are part of the Y series numbering scheme and are captioned on the reverse.
IC121/003 Reconstruction illustration showing an elevation of the grand west facade of the Female Prison at York Castle, as it is likely to have looked after it was built in the early 1780s


“Skeletons in the Cupboard” Excavations at the Former Female Prison, York Castle Car Park, 1998 (Unpublished document). SYO1925.

YAT, Crime and Punishment in 19th Century York:
Analysing the Skeletons Excavated at the former Female Prison
(Unpublished document). SYO1926.

2016, Osteological Analysis The Former Female Prison (Unpublished document). SYO1927.

Sources/Archives (3)

  • --- Unpublished document: “Skeletons in the Cupboard” Excavations at the Former Female Prison, York Castle Car Park, 1998.
  • --- Unpublished document: YAT. Crime and Punishment in 19th Century York: Analysing the Skeletons Excavated at the former Female Prison.
  • --- Unpublished document: 2016. Osteological Analysis The Former Female Prison.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (4)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Feb 10 2022 3:14PM

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