Where: at the Old Prison, Fosse Way, Northleach, Gloucestershire GL54 3JH
The grade II* listed Old Prison, is a fascinating 18th century building and now a unique historic visitor attraction in the Cotswold market town of Northleach. The centre was previously also home to the Cotswolds Conservation Board, and the Cotswolds Dry Stone Walling Academy.
The prison itself is still open to the public as an attraction and is run by the Friends of the Cotswolds. For more information visit: https://friendsofthecotswolds.org/the-old-prison/
Cotswolds Discovery Centre
The Cotswolds Discovery Centre was located at the Old Prison until 2018 but is no longer operating. It was the visitor centre for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a place where you could learn and discover more about this beautiful and unique protected landscape and how people have helped shape it over thousands of years.
Learn about the Cotswold landscape and the heritage of its people and buildings
Through imaginatively designed information displays you will learn how geology has shaped the landscape; when dinosaurs first roamed the area; and how the wealth of the area came as a result of the ‘golden fleece’ of the Cotswolds sheep.
You will also find inspiration for great places to discover and visit across the Cotswolds AONB such as historic and sites, gardens, wild flower grasslands, ancient woodlands plus the Cotswold Way National Trail which runs the length of the Cotswolds escarpment providing sweeping views for miles..
Explore the fascinating Lloyd Baker Rural Life Collection
Housed within the grounds of the Cotswolds Discovery Centre is the unique Lloyd Baker Rural Life Collection – a wonderful display of historic agricultural and farming machinery. This fascinating and nationally important collection of farm wagons, carts and implements along with two shepherds huts, will take you back in time to the days when the land was toiled by man and beast and tractors hadn’t yet been invented.
Glimpse into life in a 19th century house of correction bursting with history
Walk inside the chilling cells and capture the feeling of being locked inside!
A visit to the Old Prison offers you a unique glimpse into life in a 19th century house of correction. Built in the 1790s, this was once a fine example of a model prison used to inspire better care and rehabilitation of prisoners throughout Britain and further afield. It even served as a blueprint for London’s Pentonville Prison.
Over the years the building has seen many changes of use including a police station, petty sessional court and tramp station. You can still see one of the original cell blocks built in 1844 along with the historic court room which was in use right up until the 1970s.
Take a tour
There is a self guided tour of the Old Prison available to help you find your way around.
Grab a bite to eat
Relax in the Old Prison cafe and enjoy locally sourced delicious home made food
The Cafe serves home made food, prepared from locally sourced fresh ingredients. We offer a wide range of delicious breakfasts, light lunches and afternoon teas, along with speciality teas, coffee and soft drinks.
There is outdoor seating available in the family friendly courtyard where you can relax and enjoy your visit, or get snugly and warm in front of the wood burning stove.
They use local suppliers wherever possible to provide the best quality raw ingredients in order to make their home made specials including:
- organic Cotswold Brie from Upper Slaughter
- apple juice and chilli oils from Cheltenham
- fresh meats and salamis from Cirencester
- and chutneys and pickles from Moreton-in-Marsh
They make seriously good food with a friendly welcome to all, whether you are arriving by car, bus, on two wheels, or foot or with your dog. The cafe is licensed and is also available to hire for your own private party or event.
If all this talk of food is making you hungry, read about some must visit restaurants in the Cotswolds.
The Cotswold shop within the cafe stocks a selection of local food and drink products and a range of unique hand-made gifts and art works. the shop also stocks maps, guides and books to help you explore the Cotswolds further.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our guide on things to do near Moreton in Marsh.