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Historic England Research Records

HMP Holloway

Hob Uid: 1108432
Location :
Greater London Authority
Islington
Grid Ref : TQ3020085500
Summary : HMP Holloway was erected between 1970 and 1983 to replace an earlier prison. The foundation stone for the original prison was laid by the Lord Mayor, Sir James Duke was on 26th September 1849. Plans by James Bunstone Bunning had been approved by the Secretary of State on 29th January 1848 and a tender of £92,290 from William Trego was accepted in 1849. Trego went bankrupt in October 1850 and between November 1850 and January 1851 worked stopped. John Jay took up the contract in January 1851 and the house of correction opened on 6th October 1852. The prison was entered through two gatehouses and the majority of the buildings were constructed of brick. The plan was radial with four cell blocks for adult males, an administration block, a juvenile block and a female block. Between 1881 and 1890, a number of alterations to cell blocks were made, while in 1883-4 a new male hospital was erected. New reception blocks and a laundry were built in 1886 and a new female infirmary was added in 1891-2. The prison became all-female in 1902 and three years later a new wing was opened. From 1906 until 1914 the prison housed women arrested for acts of militancy undertaken in the campaign for women's suffrage. By the 1930s the prison was found to be inadequate and by 1968 it was concluded that the prison should be demolished and a new one built on the site. While new work began, the demolition work was still being carried out. The new prison was built as a secure hospital for 500 women. It is of red brick with projecting windows and flat roofs. Communal facilities include an education centre, workshops, gymnasium, swimming pool and chapel. A 'trolley walk' on level two runs around the site, linking all the main buildings and administration is located in the gatehouse complex. Inmate accommodation is in four and five storey cell blocks.
More information : By January 1843 the Court of Common Council and the Court of Aldermen of the City of London agreed that the existing Giltspur Street prison was inadequate and that a new house of correction was needed. An area outside the City was chosen at Holloway where the City had purchased some land as a cemetery during a cholera epidemic in 1832. Plans by James Bunstone Bunning were approved by the Secretary of State on 29th January 1848. A tender of £92,290 from William Trego was accepted in 1849. The foundation stone was laid by the Lord Mayor, Sir James Duke, on 26th September 1849. Trego went bankrupt in October 1850 and between November 1850 and January 1851 worked stopped. John Jay took up the contract in January 1851 and the house of correction opened on 6th October 1852. Debtors were admitted to the prison in 1870. The prison was entered through two gatehouses. The plan was radial with four cell blocks for adult males, an administration block, a juvenile block and a female block. The majority of the buildings were constructed of brick. A number of alterations to cell blocks were made between 1881 and 1890, a new male hospital was erected in 1883-4, new reception blocks and a laundry were build in 1886 and a new female infirmary in 1891-2. The prison became all-female in 1902. In 1905 a new wing was opened. By the 1930s the prison was found to be inadequate and by 1968 it was concluded that the prison should be demolished and a new one built on the site. HMP Holloway was erected between 1970 and 1983 whilst demolition work was being carried out. It was built as a secure hospital for 500 women. It is of red brick with projecting windows and flat roofs. Communal facilities include an education centre, workshops, gymnasium, swimming pool and chapel. A 'trolley walk' on level two runs around the site, linking all the main buildings. Administration is located in the gatehouse complex. Inmate accommodation is in four four and five storey cell blocks. (1-2)

During the campaign for women's suffrage, around 1085 women served time in prisons for the cause. They carried out acts of militancy such as arson and window-smashing to draw attention to the campaign which, along with mass demonstrations, could ensure their arrest.

The first suffragettes to be imprisoned in Holloway in 1906 suffered terrible conditions, however these were seen to improve with the appointment of medical inspector Dr Mary Gordon. According to Crawford, suffragette prisoners were held in a separate wing, however some were sent to the first division while others sent to second. Those in the former experienced much more favourable conditions which included being able to wear their own clothes, receive visits from friends, read books and newspapers and continue to receive payment for their trade or profession.

In July 1909, Marion Wallace-Dunlop was the first suffragette held in Holloway to carry out a hunger strike in protest for being sentenced to the second division, rather than the first where political prisoners were held. Many more women carried out hunger strikes with some forcibly fed by prison officials. In April1913, what became known as the 'Cat and Mouse Act' was granted Royal Assent, enabling the Home Secretary to release a hunger-striker temporarily. The women were required to sign a form giving the date of their return to prison, however in reality very few attempts were made to re-arrest the 'mice'. Following the outbreak of the First World War, all suffragette prisoners were released, having been granted an amnesty by the government.

The wing that housed suffragette prisoners during the early 20th century was demolished in 1977. Please see pages 568-569 for detailed information of life in Holloway Prison. (3)

In May 1977, the suffragette wing of Holloway prison was demolished. The initial blow was undertaken by Enid Goulden Bach, Mrs Pankhurst's niece, and the demolition ball was draped in the colours of the Women's Social and Political Union for the occasion. (4)

Currently (2010) on display at the Museum of London is a selection of objects made or owned by suffragette prisoners held in Holloway Prison. They include a sketchbook and diary by Florence Hill, socks knitted by Edith New, a letter by Kitty Marion on toilet paper, playing cards by Kitty Marshall and a bread roll kept by one of the hunger-strikers. (5)

See the Collections Online pages of the Museum of London website for images of objects relating to Holloway prison. (6)

This is an image of a quilt made by suffragettes imprisoned in Holloway Gaol. It is in the trademark colours of white, purple and green of the Women's Social and Political Union and is made from panels of fabric with embroidered signatures of the women that were imprisoned. Some of the signatories include Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Emily Davison and Annie Kenney. The quilt is in the collection at the Museum of London and is ID no. MoL_Z6092X1. To see the image, click on the link in the list of sources. (7)

This is an image of the playing cards made in Holloway Prison by Mrs Kitty Marshall who had been arrested for her involvement in protests undertaken during the women's suffrage campaign. The playing cards are held in the collection at the Museum of London and have ID no. MoL_50.82/1214. To see the image, click on the link in the list of sources. (8)

This is a photograph of the suffragette Annie Wheeler who had been imprisoned at Holloway for smashing a mummy case in a protest at the British Museum. The photograph was taken by an undercover photogapher working for the Home Office and depicts Annie being assisted out of her cell and into the prison yard. She was on a hunger strike and was therefore considerably weak. Such photographs were taken to be able to identify women if they tried to enter public buildings following their imprisonment for such incidents of civil disobedience.The photograph is in the collection at the Museum of London and is ID no. MoL_53.140/71. To see the image, click on the link in the list of sources. (9)

This is a surveillance photograph of two suffragettes in the exercise yard of Holloway Prison. Such photographs were commissioned by the Home Office and used to identify militant suffragettes if they tried to enter public buildings such as museums and art galleries. The photograph is in the collection at the Museum of London and is ID no. MoL_50.82/1483. To see the image, click on the link in the list of sources. (10)

This is an image of a sketchbook kept by a suffragette prisoner in Holloway Gaol. It depicts 'life in Holloway Gaol' and is made from prison toilet paper. The sketchbook is in the collection at the Museum of London and is ID no. MoL_50.82/1233. To see the image, click on the link in the list of sources. (11)

This website contains information on the life of women's suffrage campaigner Alice Hawkins who established the Leicester branch of the WSPU. She spent time in Holloway Prison and on the website are digital copies of her prison notes. See source for further details. (12)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Camp J. 1974. Holloway Prison. The Place and the People
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Source Number : 2
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : HMP Holloway, Buildings file held in the archive at the National Monuments Record, Ref: BF093762
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Source Number : 11
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Museum of London et al. (2005). Exploring 20th Century London [accessed 05-AUG-2010]
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Source Number : 12
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Barratt, P. (2009). Alice Hawkins Suffragette - A Sister of Freedom [accessed 27-SEP-2011]
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Source Number : 3
Source : The Women's Suffrage Movement A Reference Guide 1866-1928
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Page(s) : 567-574
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Source Number : 4
Source : The Women's Suffrage Movement in Britain, 1866-1928
Source details :
Page(s) : 181
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Source Number : 5
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Recorder's comments, Kathryn Hay, 23-JUL-2010
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Source Number : 6
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Museum of London. Exploring 20th century London: Prisons [accessed 23-JUL-2010]
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Source Number : 7
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Museum of London et al. (2005). Exploring 20th Century London [accessed 05-AUG-2010]
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Source Number : 8
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Museum of London et al. (2005). Exploring 20th Century London [acessed 05-AUG-2010]
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Source Number : 9
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Museum of London et al. (2005). Exploring 20th Century London [accessed 05-AUG-2010]
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Source Number : 10
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Museum of London et al. (2005). Exploring 20th Century London [acessed 05-AUG-2010]
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Built between 1849 and 1852.
Monument End Date : 1852
Monument Start Date : 1849
Monument Type : House Of Correction, Juvenile Prison, Gatehouse, Prison Governors House, Chaplaincy, Prison Treadmill, Cell Block, Boundary, Wall, Ventilation Chimney
Evidence : Demolished Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Debtors admitted in 1870.
Monument End Date : 1870
Monument Start Date : 1870
Monument Type : House Of Correction, Juvenile Prison, Debtors Prison
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Additions made between 1881 and 1882.
Monument End Date : 1882
Monument Start Date : 1881
Monument Type : House Of Correction, Cell Block
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : New hospital built in 1883-1884.
Monument End Date : 1884
Monument Start Date : 1883
Monument Type : House Of Correction, Debtors Prison, Juvenile Prison, Hospital
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Additions made in 1886.
Monument End Date : 1886
Monument Start Date : 1886
Monument Type : House Of Correction, Juvenile Prison, Debtors Prison, Prison Treadmill, Laundry, Office
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : New female infirmary built in 1891-1892.
Monument End Date : 1892
Monument Start Date : 1891
Monument Type : House Of Correction, Juvenile Prison, Debtors Prison, Infirmary
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Becomes a women only prison in 1902.
Monument End Date : 1902
Monument Start Date : 1902
Monument Type : Prison
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : New wing built in 1905.
Monument End Date : 1905
Monument Start Date : 1905
Monument Type : Prison, Cell Block
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Additions to hospital in 1913.
Monument End Date : 1913
Monument Start Date : 1913
Monument Type : Prison, Hospital
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Demolition and construction, 1970-1985.
Monument End Date : 1985
Monument Start Date : 1970
Monument Type : Prison, Local Prison, Hospital, Cell Block, Workshop, Gymnasium (Sports), Indoor Swimming Pool, Chapel, Gatehouse, Office, Maternity Block, Boundary Wall
Evidence : Demolished Building, Extant Building, Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 93762
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : BB70/10139
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : BB70/10224
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TQ 38 NW 38
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1238806
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : RCHME: PRISONS PROJECT
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-01