History Explorer: 19th-century prison reform

As part of our series in which experts nominate UK locations to illustrate wider historical topics, Alyson Brown visits Beaumaris Gaol, a 19th-century prison where inmates were punished with hard labour. Plus, we explore five related places

Beaumaris Gaol, Anglesey, Wales. The prison could accommodate up to 30 inmates under the so-called 'silent system', in which inmates slept in separate cells at night but worked and attended chapels and classes together during the day. (Ashley Cooper via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the November 2013 issue of BBC History Magazine

Standing in Beaumaris Gaol, a prison museum in Anglesey, I can hear the mournful cries of seagulls echo through the building, as they’ve done since the prison was opened in 1829. In a part of the country known best for outstanding medieval castles, Beaumaris Gaol is a fascinating heritage site and has survived in a relatively complete state.

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