The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3Allen, Thomas
Gaol for the City of London and County of Middlesex called Newgate.
It is a massy stone building, consisting of parts; that on the north was formerly appropriated for debtors, and that on the south for felons; but since the erection of the prison in , Newgate is wholly devoted to persons committed for criminal acts. In the centre is a dwelling-house, occupied by the keeper. The whole of the front is formed of rustic work, and at the extremities of each face is an arched niche for a statue, but only the in front of the felon's side are yet occupied.
The stone of the present prison was laid by alderman Beckford, in , years before the original prison was destroyed. Mr. George Dance was the architect. For the building the new prison and the adjoining, parliament granted to the city In , the corporation had expended upon this building; and they gave up to the public, for the site and the , a piece of freehold ground, feet in front on the , and about on , which was worth per foot, running measure; the latter was valued at for building on, and the rent at per annum. In addition, they expended of their own money in erecting the , and for the purchase of freehold houses to be taken down for making avenues to the gaol. Many unforeseen expenses attended the execution of this work, amounting altogether to the sum of This prison was nearly completed when it was attacked and destroyed by the
rioters in : was necessary for the repairs; which was chiefly supplied by the .
Tins prison is under the jurisdiction of the lord mayor and aldermen of the city, and the sheriffs of London and Middlesex. The expense at which it is supported, including the maintenance of the prisoners, who have a regular allowance of food, is entirely paid out of the city funds.
The interior of the prison consists of quadrangles, namely, a centre and wings, independently of the press-yard and condemned wards and cells behind the north wing, which occupy a part of the site of the old gaol. It is a substantial stone building, with extensive vaults, strongly arched with brick, beneath the lower story; several of which contain large cisterns. The , or northern station, has yards, with sleeping and day rooms attached: the yard and rooms are occupied by adult convicts under sentence of transportation; the yard and rooms by the boys, who have also a school-room, established in ; the yard and rooms are used as the male infirmary and convalescent wards. The station, or centre of the prison, has also yards, with attached day and sleeping rooms; the of which is occupied by criminals under sentence of imprisonment for misdemeanors and felonies; the other yards and rooms are reserved for the untried male prisoners: the press-yard, with the attached cells, and wards for condemned criminals, are also locally connected with this station. In the south wing, or station, which is wholly occupied by female prisoners, are yards, having sleeping wards and day rooms attached: the yard and rooms are occupied by females waiting their trials; and there is likewise a school for girls; the rooms of the upper story are used as the female infirmary: the yard and adjoining rooms are occupied by females under sentence of transportation for felonies and misdemeanors, and with this yard is connected the condemned cell.
The principal wards and rooms in all the stations are each about feet in length, and feet wide; the others are about feet by . The wards connected with the press-yard, for males under sentence of death, are each feet in length, and feet wide. There are tier of condemned cells, in each tier, strongly arched, and measuring feet by . In the central part, behind the keeper's house, is the chapel, which will conveniently hold about persons; but when condemned sermons are preached, and the public admitted, from to and even people have crowded into it at time. The interior is plain; over the women's seats, which are excluded from the sight of the male prisoners by a curtain, there is a small octagonal skylight, with a moveable top for the admission of air.
The officers of this prison consist of a keeper, principal turnkeys, under turnkeys, an assistant, watchmen, a matron, and female searchers.
Opposite this prison formerly stood a row of mean houses, which were removed about , when the unfortunate victims to the laws of the country were executed opposite
the practice of taking them to Tyburn having been discontinued.
Contiguous to this building, and only separated from it by a square court, is Justice-hall, commonly called the Sessions-house.
This was formerly a plain brick edifice; but was rebuilt entirely of stone, and is brought so much forwarder than the old as to be parallel with the street. On each of the sides is a flight of steps that lead to the court, which has a gallery on each side for the accommodation of spectators. The prisoners are brought to this court from Newgate by a passage that closely connects the buildings; and there is a convenient place under the sessions-house in front, for detaining the prisoners till they are called upon their trials. There are also rooms for the grand and petty jury, with other necessary accommodations.
A court is held here times a year by the king's commission of oyer and terminer, for the trial of prisoners for crimes committed within the city of London and county of Middlesex. The judges are the lord mayor, the aldermen past the chair, and the recorder, who, on such occasions, are attended by both the sheriffs, and by or more of the national judges. The offences committed in the city are tried by a jury of citizens, and those committed in the county by a jury formed of the housekeepers in the county.
The crimes tried in this court are high and petty treason, murder, felony, forgery, petty larceny, burglary, &c.
Adjoining to this building is an open space supporting another court, erected in , on pillars of the Doric order; it was originally intended for the convenience of witnesses in waiting, &c. but the wind being admissible through the gates, and there being no fire-place, it was never used. On the site of this building stood the old surgeons' theatre, now totally demolished.
On the east side of Fleet-market, stands the
 Britton and Pugin's Public Buildings, vol ii. p. 64.