• Shepton Mallet Prison

Prison Lockdown - Week 5

We are at the end of another week on lockdown. I hope you have been finding things to keep you busy, whether it be a brand new hobby or the same thing you normally enjoy.

Despite the continuing good weather I have spent more time inside this week (other than the permitted daily exercise) because being a red-head with fair skin means I have the misfortune of burning quickly, and I do not want to burn any further than I already have in the past few weeks.

Some of us are finally able to get on with the projects we have put off for too long. So many people I talk to seem to be occupied with diamond painting kits or baking the infamous banana bread. Instead, I have been reading and redecorating.

I have a love of all things Bronte and Austin, but of course I cannot stay away from the subject of prisons for too long, so have also been reading Crime, Punishment and Ilchester Gaol and A Memoir of the life of Elizabeth Fry; the latter is on loan from our brilliant researcher. If you ever get the chance to visit the Ilchester Museum, there is an amazing history about the town’s prison featured here.

The paint bought last year has finally been opened; radiators and ceilings have been given a new coat, and the bathroom is next to be tackled. Whilst clearing the spaces before painting, to avoid any rogue white splatters falling from the ceiling, I needed to move various bits and pieces, including two items which were made by inmates from Shepton Mallet prison; a Swiss-House (pictured) and a jewellery box.

Prisoners throughout history have always made things, be it weaponry, tools, items to sell or gifts. During the Napoleonic wars Norman Cross Prison was established near Peterborough; the prisoners of war made toys, model ships and dominoes sets from carving wood or animal bone. These would be sold to visitors and passers-by, or even the wealthy were known to commission items from the more skilled prisoners.

Whilst we may not be able to sell some of our wares right now as the Napoleonic prisoners did, it is quite fun to compare our successes and failures in making things to pass the time, especially if it is a hilariously bad attempt at a hedgehog cake…

Perhaps by the next time I write the bathroom will be finished, but I won’t make any promises about the knitting.

Felicity - CSA at Shepton Mallet Prison


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Shepton Mallet Prison

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