Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
Beaumaris Gaol  


Unitary Authority
Isle of Anglesey  
Street Side
A large building occupying the whole block bounded by Bunkers Hill, Steeple Lane and Gaol Street.  


Broad Class

A Gaol and House of Correction built in 1829 by Joseph Hansom & Edward Welch, architects of York, one of 3 major commissions in Beaumaris, the others being the Bulkeley Hotel and Victoria Terrace. The gaol replaced an earlier gaol rendered inadequate by the Prisons Act of 1823, and on the sea front occupying a desirable site for redevelopment. The gaol is shown T-shaped on the 1829 town plan. The punishment wing, incorporating the treadwheel, was therefore a slightly later addition to the original design. In its original form the gaol was said to have 23 'wards', 6 day rooms and 6 airing yards. The gaol was enlarged again in 1867 (date on rainwater heads) and is shown in its present form on the 1889 Ordnance Survey. Two public executions took place on the gallows in the perimeter wall. The prison closed in 1878, when inmates were transferred to Caernarfon. Thereafter it became a police station. It became a museum in 1975.  

A 2-storey gaol, with main E-W range incorporating the N entrance to Bunkers Hill, and S wing extended to the perimeter wall in 1867, and a lower wing on the E side, giving an F-shaped plan. The elevations are mainly of coursed rubble-stone walls with freestone dressings and monolithic surrounds, with hipped graded-slate roof on wide eaves, and with freestone stacks. The severe 3-bay entrance, between the splayed abutting walls of the outer perimeter, is of coursed, rock-faced limestone. It has a central tripartite doorway of minimal classical distinction, and with '1829' incised into the entablature. It has recessed small-pane flanking windows and segmental-headed central studded door. Windows are 16-pane hornless sashes. Further L, behind the perimeter wall and opening to one of several prison yards, is a 7-window elevation, in which the upper storey has iron-barred cell windows with recessed small-pane casements. In the lower storey, at the R end, is a studded door with small-pane sash window to the R and blocked window to the L, opening to a small kitchen yard. On the L side is a courtyard wall comprising a freestone coped dwarf wall and tall vertical slate slabs, and incorporating a freestone doorway surround. To the L of the kitchen yard is a studded door with barred window to the R and 2 barred windows to the L. Iron railings, with gate, are built between the end of the wall and the perimeter wall. In the E end wall is a panelled door with flanking lights and overlight. Above is a studded door, which led by means of a temporary walkway to the gallows in the perimeter wall, and small-pane overlight. At the SE end of the main range is a single-storey punishment wing under a roof of small slates, which faces W toward one of the main exercise yards. It is open-fronted on 2 cast iron posts. At the N end are 6 stalls to a wooden treadwheel, which pumped water to the prison well, which is reached through a boarded door on the R. Further R is another boarded door, to a whipping room. At the R end is a monopitched ty bach with wooden seat, under an original roof of large slates, and wall continuing to the perimeter wall, closing off the yard but incorporating a doorway. The S wall of the main range, on the E side of the S wing, has 7 upper-storey cell windows, of which the 4th and 5th are set lower and have 2-light casements, with a single-light and barred window further R. In the lower storey is a small-pane sash window to the L and a studded door flanked by 2-light small-pane casements. A splayed angle with the S wing has a pair of 16-pane hornless sashes in the lower storey (lighting the chapel), a 2-light window upper L and 12-pane hornless sash window upper R. The S wing is 4-window in its original form, with wider 2-window extension. In the original portion is a doorway to the R with barred overlight, and three 2-light windows, of which the outer are barred. In the upper storey are 4 barred cell windows, except the centre-R which is blind. The S wing is surmounted by a tall rectangular water tower with projecting cap on a deep moulded corbel table. Either side of the water tower are small-pane dormer windows lighting the central lobby of the main range. The extension to the S wing has 2-light windows in the lower storey and shorter but similar barred windows in the upper storey. A lantern has 4 similar windows. Returning to the main range, on the R (W) side of the main entrance, facing a yard on the N side, is a 7-window elevation similar to the E side, except that there are 3 doorways instead of 2, and iron railings across the yard to the perimeter wall. At the end of the wall is an added lean-to ty bach, and another gate with iron railings. The W end wall has a triple barred window in the lower storey, a barred window above, both lighting the corridors, and smaller cell windows R and L. The S elevation has 7 cell windows in the upper storey, of which the 2 at the L end are blocked, and in the lower storey a studded door L of centre, and to its R 2 barred windows and 2-light window at the R end. Across the entire front are 6 stone-walled bays used for breaking up rocks, into which a monopitched projection has been inserted at the L end. The splay in the angle with the S wing has two 24-pane sash windows in the lower storey and similar but shorter 16-pane and 12-pane sash windows above. The S wing has 4 upper-storey cell windows, of which the centre-L is blocked, and, in the lower storey, a doorway with overlight to the L and 3 barred windows. The R-hand window has a vertical joint beneath its L jamb, suggesting that it was originally a doorway. The extension of the S wing has 2 barred windows in each storey, shorter to the upper storey, and lantern with 4 similar barred windows.  

The prison is planned with central corridors giving access to the rooms and cells. The ground floor was devoted to daytime activities and the upper storey houses the cells. The E side of the main range accommodated the women prisoners. From the central entrance lobby the corridors have iron railings and gates. Doors are mainly thick studded doors with heavy bolts, some reinforced with metal plates. In the lower storey, the E side of the main range has rooms including, on the N side, a kitchen and women's workroom. On the S side is a punishment cell, a room later adapted as a kitchen for the police station, and a chapel. The chapel has pews with shaped ends, and a panelled pulpit incorporating a reading desk. On W side rooms included a men's workroom and 2 slightly better cells, used for those sentenced to correction rather than hard labour, one of which was converted after 1878 to a drunk's cell. In the S wing the doorways have ovolo-moulded surrounds to cells, that included reception cells for new prisoners. At the end of the S wing the extension of 1867 has a cast iron stair to a cast-iron balcony on scrolled brackets, with balustrade. Stone stairs are in the main range. A straight stairs with winders at the base is on the E side and, at the end of the W side, is a straight stair with winders at the top and bottom, both with iron balustrades. In addition are closed-string stone stairs from the men's and women's workrooms. The upper storey is laid with slate flagstones. The governor's office is at the centre of the main range. It has half-glazed doors and small-pane fixed lights to the R and L, allowing a view down each of the corridors. On the W side are cells and a small infirmary. On the E side are the women's cells, and a condemned cell, nursery, and a cell adapted as a police station bathroom. From the central lobby is a panel door set high above the entrance to the S wing, giving access to the water tower. To its L are wooden steps, set high, beneath the dormer window.  

Reason for designation
Listed grade I as an especially well-preserved early C19 gaol of striking architectural character. It is of national importance for its well-preserved interior and for retaining the only surviving treadwheel at a prison in Wales or England.  

Cadw : Full Report for Listed Buildings [ Records 1 of 1 ]