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The Quadrangle, Former Her Majesty's Prison Northallerton, Northallerton

Description: The Quadrangle, Former Her Majesty's Prison Northallerton

Grade: II
Date Listed: 11 March 2014
Building ID: 1418378

OS Grid Reference: SE3710093846
OS Grid Coordinates: 437100, 493846
Latitude/Longitude: 54.3388, -1.4309

Locality: Northallerton
Local Authority: Hambleton
County: North Yorkshire
Postcode: DL6 1NW

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Listing Text


The early core of Northallerton Prison designed by John Carr 1788 and extended in the 1820s by George Atkinson. Arranged around a courtyard being the Governor's House, a wing for female prisoners and a staff accommodation building.

The much altered remains of the original cell block for male prisoners, along with the various other later buildings and structures of the prison, are not included in the listing.

Reason for Listing

The Quadrangle or early core of the pre-1830 buildings, former Her Majesty's Prison Northallerton, erected in the late C18 and early C19, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Date: for the rare survival of pre-1830 prison buildings, particularly that of the 1818 Female Wing probably designed in the 1780s;
* Association: although it is not absolutely certain if any of the surviving buildings were designed by John Carr, it is thought that he was responsible for the overall form of the pre-1830 prison;
* Architecture: particularly for the design of the Female Wing with its lunette windows and the rare survival of original interlocking iron bars, but also for the way in which the design of the Governor's House is relatively conservative, the staff tenement is utilitarian and the way that the buildings are arranged around a courtyard;
* Historic interest: the establishment of a prison and courthouse at Northallerton was a factor in the development of the town as the County Town of the North Riding.


In 1783 the Justices of the North Riding decided to close the house of correction at Thirsk, building a replacement in Northallerton. This was designed by John Carr, with the new prison entering service in 1788 at a cost of £3,411 3s 11d. It was built on marshland that was donated by the Bishop of Durham and included gaoler's, prisoners' and hospital accommodation. It is thought that Carr designed the prison as a quadrangle with the main cell block being gable-end-on to the south side of the courtyard, but that only part of Carr's design was built by 1788. The north side of the quadrangle was built by 1800 with the construction of the courthouse (demolished circa 1989) and the east side, with the construction of the original Female Wing, in circa 1818.

The prison was visited by James Neild in about 1802, writing for the Gentleman's Magazine in 1805, who noted that at that time the gaoler's apartments were below the court. He also noted that on the ground floor of the prison there were twelve cells for male prisoners arranged to flank a central passage lit by a window at one end, with a large workroom at the other end which was used as a chapel, a second workroom for men being elsewhere; on the first floor there were five sleeping cells for female prisoners (again with a central passage), a large room for the turnkey (prison warder) and two further workrooms. This two-storey prison wing is thought to have been that designed by Carr on the south side of the quadrangle, being subsequently significantly altered to form the Chapel Wing (excluded from the listing, see Factual Details report). Neild did not describe the prison wing forming the east side of the quadrangle, supporting the interpretation that this was the wing added in 1818.

Further expansion of the prison took place in the late 1820s with the construction of the Governor's House and two prison wings designed by George Atkinson. Adverts for tenders for the construction of a gaoler's house (considered to be the Governor's House) and three separate buildings are held at the County Record Office. These new prison wings are thought to have been built extending to the east and west of the south end of Carr's original cell block, although both were demolished in the C20. Brickwork in the west elevation of the Governor's House suggests that it incorporates an earlier building in its rear half, possibly part of the original prison complex. The third building is possibly that adjoining the south end of the 1818 Female Wing (referred to below as the Link Building), to the east of the Governor's House, although it may have been the range forming the western side of the quadrangle.

By the late 1840s, the prison was seriously overcrowded, prompting further building work from 1848 which was completed by circa 1852: the designer was Captain Worsley, the county surveyor of bridges. This work included the addition of two new three-storey prison wings, one for women to the east of the Governor's House (Female Cell Block, NHLE entry 1418864), and a larger wing for men to the south (excluded from the listing, see Factual Details report). The upper floor of the original prison wing was rebuilt and heightened to form a chapel designed to accommodate 300 people (excluded from the listing, see Factual Details report). A new infirmary wing was also added to the east end of the eastern 1820s prison wing (demolished along with the prison wing in the C20).

The earliest identified plan of the prison dates to 1877, when Northallerton was inspected by Colonel A.B. McHardy in preparation for the transfer of the prison from local responsibility to the Prison Commission. By this time the prison complex had reached its full extent, although a number of buildings were replaced with new buildings in the C20. The 1818 Female Wing was at this time used for women prisoners with children and also included accommodation for a school mistress. The Staff Tenement Range opposite included accommodation for the Deputy Governor, Chief Constable and Policemen, with, on the ground floor, a potato store and the 'old laundry'. This plan also shows that the treadmills (first installed at Northallerton in circa 1821 for the hard labour of prisoners) were in the south-eastern part of the complex that was redeveloped in the C20.

In the 1890s, Northallerton was one of the five prisons in England selected to receive juvenile prisoners sentenced to more than one month's detention, these being held separately from adults. In 1904 Northallerton was closed to female prisoners.

Northallerton Prison was completely closed in 1922 but was reopened, initially as a military prison, in 1943. In 1946 it was extensively damaged during a roof-top protest by nine prisoners. Through most of the second half of the C20 Northallerton housed male juveniles, although by the time of its closure in 2013 it was a general male prison.

The establishment of a prison in Northallerton, with the construction of a purpose-built courthouse, is thought to have been a contributing factor to the development of Northallerton as the County Town of the North Riding.


Prison, 1788 in origin by John Carr, however most early surviving buildings date to 1818-28 (some by George Atkinson), alterations in 1848-52 by the North Riding surveyor of bridges, extensive C20 alterations and additions.

LAYOUT: the quadrangle formed the northern third of the prison's maximum extent with the courthouse (demolished by 1991) on the north side, Governor's House to the south, staff tenement range to the west and the 1818 Female Wing to the east. The original 1788 prison block was due south of the Governor's House and was much altered to form the Chapel Wing, which is excluded from this listing, as is the mid C19 Male Cell Block. The later mid C19 Female Cell Block to the east of the Governor's House is listed separately (NHLE entry 1418864).


MATERIALS: very variable red brick generally in Flemish bond; thinner, browner brick in English bond to the rear with a ragged boundary between the two on the west front. Stone portico and window sills. Modern bars to windows and modern sheet steel roof covering, these modern alterations are not of special interest*.

PLAN: double pile, central stair hall plan.

EXTERIOR: north entrance front is symmetrical of five bays and two storeys, the ground floor being raised. The portico is Tuscan and is very simply detailed. The window above is blind and like the other windows, it has a gauged-brick flat-arch and a projecting stone sill. The roof is hipped and lacks chimney stacks. The two rear corners of the house are curved, the curve being nearly filled by large windows with stone lintels and sills, divided into three by mullions; these windows were originally designed to overlook the prison exercise yards flanking the Chapel Wing.

INTERIOR: retains its simply detailed staircase with a ramped and wreathed handrail set on stick balusters rising from a curtail step. Some modest original cornicing and joinery also survives.


MATERIALS: thin, mixed brown and red brick generally laid in English cross bond. Stone window surrounds with projecting sills and keystones. The modern sheet metal roof is not of special interest*.

PLAN: both floors are arranged with a broad corridor along the western wall with cells and rooms on the eastern side. Stairs are in the adjacent link building (see below).

EXTERIOR: two stories of (to the west) five regular bays of large lunette windows with later multi-paned timber windows. The upper floor of the east elevation has seven smaller lunette windows. The north gable is rebuilt in modern brick (following the demolition of the formerly attached courthouse) and is not of special interest*. The northern-most bay facing the courtyard (west) was formally an entrance with a stone surround, now blocked and reduced to a small lunette window. The window on the first floor above has been converted into a fire escape door. The adjacent window on the ground floor has also been opened up into a doorway with a third door inserted through the wall between the southern-most two bays. These C20 and later alterations are not of special interest*.

INTERIOR: all the windows retain original iron bars of a distinctive interlocking design. Ceilings are vaulted and although some cells have been knocked through to form larger offices, the divisions are still readable. The northern-most cell on the ground floor (identified as a punishment (isolation) cell in 1877) retains C20 fittings which contribute to the special interest.


MATERIALS: browny-red brick mainly laid in English garden wall bond. Projecting stone window sills. Welsh slate roof.

PLAN: extensively reconfigured internally, but the external elevations suggest that the building originally had two entrances (both in the eastern elevation) with a principal staircase half way along the range.

EXTERIOR: three stories of nine bays with slightly scattered fenestration, a number being blocked or altered. Most windows have projecting stone sills and gauged brick flat arches. Central to the east elevation are two tall round arched stair windows (the lower now partly infilled). The four ground-floor bays to the south have original round arched openings, all now blocked: two being windows, two doorways, the southernmost, being the larger of the two, was reduced to a window before being completely blocked. The two current entrances to the building are both insertions.
The west (rear) elevation is slightly more regular and lacks any round arched openings. There is some scaring to the brickwork on the ground floor marking the removal of attached outbuildings.
The roof is shallow pitched and hipped. There is a large end stack standing to full height at the north end.

INTERIOR: extensively altered and no longer of special interest* with the exception of the floor plates and the original roof structure of through-bolted kingpost trusses.


MATERIALS: original build is in thin, mixed brown and red brick, generally laid in English garden wall bond, but there is much later alteration in other brickwork which is generally detrimental to the special interest of the building. Original sills and lintels are sandstone, but most replaced with concrete which are not of special interest*. Welsh slate roof.

PLAN: axial corridor with rooms to the sides with accesses through to the adjoining buildings, that to the Governor's House being C20 and not of special interest*. The plan form is thought to have had some modern alteration.

EXTERIOR: this is of three storeys and five bays, its ridgeline continuing that of the attached 1852 Female Cell Block (NHLE List entry 1418864); however, the link building is narrower, the north side wall being set back to abut the south gable of the 1818 Female Wing which covers most of the eastern three bays. Originally there was a narrow gap between the west gable of the link building and the Governor's House, but this now has a C20 infill. Most of the window openings of the link building have been altered, reduced in width and given new lintels. The roof retains a large, tall ventilation chimney on its ridge, aligned with the ridge of the 1818 Female Wing.

INTERIOR: generally altered and modernised, lacking in special interest, but retains an exposed jack arched ceiling, others possibly surviving concealed by modern dropped ceilings. This building provides the access to the upper floor of the attached 1818 Female Wing, although it is uncertain if this was the original access.

* Pursuant to s.1(5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.