See how the prisoners lived their daily lives: what they ate, how they worked, and the punishments they suffered. Explore the cells including the punishment, 'dark' and condemned cell. Find out about the Welsh Houdini and William Hughes the last man to be hanged there.
Ruthin's first House of Correction, or Bridewell, was built at the bottom of Clwyd Street in 1654 to replace the Old Court House. Able-bodied idlers and the unemployed were sent to do work. It was in 1775 that a new model prison was built on the site of the old Bridewell. By 1865 The Prisons Act set new standards again for the design of prisons and plans were drawn up for a new four-storey wing, and the new prison accommodating up to 100 prisoners, in the style of London's Pentonville Prison was built at a cost of £12,000. As far as is known, only one person was ever executed in the prison, William Hughes of Denbigh, aged 42, who was hanged on 17 February 1903 for the murder of his wife, his plea of insanity having failed.
Ruthin Gaol ceased to be a prison in 1916 when the prisoners and guards were transferred to Shrewsbury. During the Second World War the prison buildings were used as a munitions factory, before being handed back to the County Council afterwards, when it was the headquarters of the Denbighshire Library Service. In 2002 the Gaol was extensively renovated and reopened as a museum as it is today. It is a grand building and is well worth a visit. Today the prison court yard is used for Farmers' Markets and Craft Fairs and is attended by the traditional Town Crier.
Open 7 days 10am to 5pm, until 31st October. then weekends and School holidays. Last admission, 1 hour before closing.
Review Ruthin Gaol.