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The Condemned

A condemned man
A condemned man

Those under sentence of death were kept in a special condemned cell away from the other prisoners. The only time they would leave the cell was to attend church on the Sunday, or sometimes the morning, before they were due to be executed.

At Lincoln prison, for example, unlike the other prisoners that stood in special individual compartments so they could only see the Chaplin, the condemned sat at the front of the chapel.

The condemned prisoner was watched night and day and had access to a Chaplin, so that they could confess their sins and benefit from 'religious ministrations'.

As soon as the execution date had been set the prisoner would be informed. Usually it was only a matter of a few weeks from the guilty verdict to the time of execution.

A few days before the execution, they were allowed a visit by members of their family, in the presence of the governor or wardens. If a prisoner's appeal to the Home Secretary was successful and they were respited they would be moved to an ordinary cell.

If the appeal was not sucessful the sentence would be carried out. Before 1868 the prisoner would be pinioned in the gaol and led outside in a small procession (usually consisting of the sheriff, Chaplin and Javelin men) to the gallows. After this date executions were carried out in private in the gaol. Other prisoners were often kept confined in their cells on the day of the execution, until it had taken place. The gallows were house in a special area or room within the gaol.

In the extended case studies you can find out about two women condemned to hang Lucy Lowe (who was reprieved) and Sarah Dazley (the last woman to hang outside Bedford prison).