Jailhouse Tours

Things To Do Category: Adventure, Arts and Culture, Heritage, With the Family and Friends, Museums, and With the Kids

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  • Guided Prison Tours

    Walk in the footsteps of prisoners who have been residents of the wings during the last 200 years. Discover what happens behind the high walls and locked doors. Experience the hidden world of capital punishment and see first hand one of the last working execution rooms in the country.

    Visit us at The Dana Prison, Shrewsbury: ‘the world’s most interactive prison tour’.

    Jailhouse Tours conducts guided tours run by ex-prison officers who once managed these very wings. Our two-hour tours give you the opportunity to view this historic building and learn more about its history dating back to 1793.

    Once inside, your journey will begin in the same way as that of a prisoner. Starting your sentence, you will be processed through reception before heading out to the wings and into the general population (gen pop). Your tour will take you to never-before-seen areas of the prison, where you will learn about its history, its inmates, daily life, visits and prison work as well as discover the truth behind the Dana’s grisly history with executions.

    Throughout the tour you will be able to ask questions of your guides and hear stories from the early days of the original prison through to modern times. You will be given the chance to have a ‘Closed Cell’ experience, which involves entering cells and having the doors closed behind you, to fully appreciate what it would have been like for a prisoner.

    Prison tours last for two hours and cover approximately one mile and 200 stairs. Children are allowed on tours but we recommend parental guidance as some of the content may be unsuitable.  We regret we are unable to provide wheelchair access on these tours. Click here for more information about tour times and prices.

    Self-Guided Prison Tours

    Alternatively, explore the Dana Prison, Shrewsbury at your own pace. Use our Visitors’ Guide and sign-posting to find your way around the site to learn facts about each area, take photos and soak up the reality of being incarcerated. To enjoy a self-guided tour simply turn up at the Dana prison and pay on the day. The site is open from 10:00 – 17:00, last entry is 1 hour before close.

    Ghost Tours

    The true history of HMP Shrewsbury is terrifying enough –  It’s one of Shropshires most haunted sites, where restless spirits still tread.  ​After you’ve entered through the imposing wooden doors you’ll be greeted by your guide.  Once inside you’ll experience the strange silence that fills the grounds, the damp walls carrying only the faintest echo of the trains passing through the station next to the main road that you’ve left behind.

    ​With the scene set, you’ll descend into the depths of the Prison – and listen in horror to its dark and sinister side. Torture. Murder. Hangings. You’ll be gripped by the true tales that lie hidden behind the walls of HMP Shrewsbury.

    ​Watch out for a cold breath on the back of the neck, a whisper, a flicker – then silence. It’s all the more chilling for being absolutely real: but a word of warning! You’ll need to bring a torch, for once inside the Prison, darkness descends!

    Please dress up warm, bring a small torch, walking shoes, someone’s hand and your wits. Please arrive from 7.15pm for the 7:30 tour and from 9.15pm for the 9:30 tour.

    History

    The Dana was completed in 1793 and was named after Rev Edmund Dana (1739-1823).

    The original building was constructed by Thomas Telford, following plans by Shrewsbury architect John Hiram Haycock. William Blackburn, an architect who designed many prisons, also played a part in drawing up the plans for the new prison. It was Blackburn who chose the site on which the prison is built. Blackburn was influenced by the ideas of John Howard. Howard was a prison reformer who had suggested various ways in which the sanitary conditions of English prisons could be improved. These measures formed part of the 1774 Gaol Act.

    Howard visited Shrewsbury in 1788 to inspect the plans for the new prison. He disliked some aspects of the designs, such as the size of the interior courts. As a result, redesigns were undertaken by Thomas Telford. Telford had been given the position of clerk of works at the new prison the previous year.

    Shrewsbury Prison was finished in 1793. The bust above the gatehouse of the prison is of John Howard himself, who also gives his name to Howard Street where the prison is located. Howard died three years before the prison was completed after contracting typhus whilst visiting a Russian military hospital at Kherston.

    For many years Shrewsbury prison was a place of execution, which in older times was carried out in public and drew huge crowds in an unwholesome festive atmosphere. People used to turn up early to make sure they got a good place, and posters were produced as souvenirs. Shrewsbury’s last public hanging was on April 11, 1863, when 30-year-old Edward Cooper was executed for a murder at Baschurch. It was particularly popular, with numbers watching nearly 10 times higher than the previous execution.

    Historically Shrewsbury’s jail was in School Gardens, which had taken over the role from the jail at Shrewsbury Castle which had become so ruinous that in the late 16th century prisoners were able to make an escape attempt by the simple method of taking stones out of the wall. The School Gardens prison was replaced by a new jail on the present site which was completed in 1793 at a cost of £30,000.


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  • Prices:

    Self Guided Tours:

    Ticket Type Price
    Adult (16+) £15
    Child (5-15y) £9.50
    Concessions (60+ ID required) £13
    Students (16+ full time, ID required) £13
    Family (2 Adults + 2 Children) £43.50

    Guided Tours - Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday

    Ticket Type Price
    Adult (16+) £18
    Child (5-15) £12.50
    Concession (60+ ID required) £16
    Student (16+ full time, ID required) £16
    Family (2 Adults, 2 Children) £47.50

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  • Prices:

    Self Guided Tours:

    Ticket Type Price
    Adult (16+) £15
    Child (5-15y) £9.50
    Concessions (60+ ID required) £13
    Students (16+ full time, ID required) £13
    Family (2 Adults + 2 Children) £43.50

    Guided Tours - Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday

    Ticket Type Price
    Adult (16+) £18
    Child (5-15) £12.50
    Concession (60+ ID required) £16
    Student (16+ full time, ID required) £16
    Family (2 Adults, 2 Children) £47.50