More about the history of Littledean Jail

31 Mar 2017
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Life Inside...

Police Officer Uniform

Life inside the Littledean Jail was seemingly far better than life outside - for most of the Forest community. Life outside was certainly hard, most if not all those that lived in and around the Forest of Dean in the 18th century were destitute, disease ridden, illiterate and very, very poor.

Those that were imprisoned here were at least guaranteed food, a place to sleep and some form of education, if only in religious instruction - namely Catholicism.

Crimes Committed...

On 18th November 1791, Joseph Marshall, a 19 year old labourer was the first inmate admitted here. His crime - stealing a spade.
Convictions here ranged from petty theft, lewd women (prostitutes), military deserters, fraud and embezzlement, assault and battery to murder.

Children as young as 8 years old were incarcerated here and whipped with the birch, cat of nine tails and kept in solitary confinement. Between 1837-1838 three babies were born here, though only one survived.

First Gloucestershire Policeman killed in the line of duty!

Police Sergeant Samuel Beard stationed here at Littledean Jail was the first policeman in the County to be killed in the line of duty at Speech House Hotel in the Forest of Dean in 1861.

There is a tombstone in Littledean churchyard sacred to the memory of this brave officer.

Gruesome Skull


The last woman in Gloucestershire to be charged with witchcraft was tried here at the Jailhouse in 1906. Cinderford wise woman, Ellen Hayward (known as Old Ellen) conducted her own defence and was subsequently found not guilty!!!


In 1854 Littledean Jail was no longer used as a House of Correction, used instead as a Police Station, remand prison and petty sessional Court from 1874. It was also to serve as a headquarters for the County’s mounted police, stabling horses here inside the one time treadmill outbuilding.

It was also used as a barracks and archive store during the war for Gloucester Cathedral and the County’s Public Records Office.


In 2003 the new owners moved in - who are they?

House of Whipcord Picture

Film Set...

The titillating Hammer House of Horrors cult film - ‘House of Whipcord’ was set and filmed here in 1974 - still very much a cult film today. Littledean Jail still retains its magnetism as the perfect location for film location projects.


  • More about Littledean Jail for hire for film and television...
Last modified on Monday, 11 April 2022 13:07
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