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Daily Life
 

Daily Life

Cell Huntingdon Gaol
A Cell - Huntingdon Gaol

This section looks at daily life in gaols throughout the 19th century. The section includes general information, as well as examples from specific gaols and archive records to help explain what life in prison was like. Prisons were never designed to be nice places to live. The 19th century however saw great changes. At the start of the century men, women and children were kept in the same gaols in crowded, dirty, unhealthy conditions. Prisoners had to pay for their own food, and disease was very common.

In Gloucester in 1780 a 'new model prison' was built by Sir George Onesiphorus Paul. As prisoner numbers increased, the new gaols built to accommodate the growing numbers of prisoners came to be modelled on this. Men, women and children were separated. The rules ensured that prisoners were made to wash regularly and wore a uniform to help keep them clean and to prevent them from escaping without being caught. They were taught to read and write and their health checked. They were fed a basic diet by the prison, and did not have to rely on their families for food or clothes.

Daily life in the gaols was organised in the belief that prisoners should be punished, think carefully about what they had done wrong, and be made to do hard work. There was usually a period of solitary confinement. All had to work, with the type of work they did depending on whether they had been sentenced to hard labour or not.

Rules about the feeding, clothing and accommodation of prisoners were made by the Home Office, and these gradually improved during the 19th Century. The regime, however, was still harsh. Daily Life Picture Gallery

Food and Drink

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Labour

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Medical Provision and Hygiene

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Instruction

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Clothes

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Cells and Bedding