Jedburgh Castle Jail

Jedburgh Castle Jail

 

Jedburgh Castle was a castle at Jedburgh in Scotland. It was fought over during the Wars of Scottish Independence, and was demolished by the Scots commanded by Sir James Douglas of Balvenie in 1409.The castle was once one of the most important Border strongholds. The area later served as the site of the town gallows until the building of the Jail. Jedburgh Old Castle Jail is a fine example of a purpose- built early 19th century jail, completed in 1823 as a Howard Reform Prison. It was built on the mound of medieval Jedburgh Castle. It is contemporary with Inveraray Jail (1819) and in the same style as Stirling Old Town Jail (1847) although Jedburgh has a more refined layout than either.

 

Jedburgh's old jail had been first in the Tolbooth, (demolished at the end of the 18th century), and then in the Newgate. A separate bridewell (House of Correction) had been built in 1789 just south of the Abbey Bridge; the building was demolished in 1972 to make way for the by-pass. Archibald Elliott, the architect of Edinburgh's Calton Gaol, was chosen to design the new jail. He produced a fine castellated structure with separate prison blocks and an exercise yard. John Howard’s Reform Prisons were designed to enhance the physical and mental health of the prisoners in order to reform them. The plan and furnishings of the prisons were carefully considered. There were rules about food, hygiene, exercise, good order and the quality of the warders. The prisons were regularly inspected. The local minister said that there was "no more comfortable place of confinement in Scotland". But all that changed in 1847, in line with new harsh guidelines laid down by the Prisons Act of 1839, and all the prisoners were confined in separate cells. One inmate was moved to write: “I'd rather lie in the belly o' a whale, Than spend a nicht in Jethart Gaol.” It was closed in 1886 when a national scheme of prisons was put in place.

 

The main building of Jedburgh Castle Jail is home to the museum collection of the town of Jedburgh, focusing on traditions, industries and important individuals of this historic Scottish town, with historical artefacts, prints and paintings and a temporary exhibition space. You can walk through the original cell blocks of this Georgian jail - the finest remaining Howard reform prison in Scotland - and find out about some of the people who were once imprisoned here and why they were put in. Children can dress up and enjoy activities. The prisoners' cell blocks tell the story of the Jail and its inmates, with individual cells looking as they would have done - complete with model prisoners. In the Governor's House you will discover the history of Jedburgh and see many of the historical objects and artworks that tell the story of the town, its industries and its people. Audio tour, foreign language and children's guides are available and there is an audio-visual display on the ground floor for wheelchair users. The ground floor is the only floor accessible to wheelchair users. Assistance dogs are welcome. There is a disabled drop of point close to the museum. There is free parking available.

Mary, Queen of Scots' Visitor Centre

Mary, Queen of Scots' Visitor Centre

Mary's Death Mask

Mary's Death Mask

Mary, Queen of Scots' Visitor Centre

Mary Queen of Scots House. The young Mary Stuart arrived in Jedburgh in 1566 to hold a Circuit Court, and a 16th Century bastel house (fortified house) was put at her disposal. Hearing that Lord Bothwell lay wounded at Hermitage Castle, Mary set out on an arduous return journey of 40 miles to visit him. She arrived back from a drenching moorland ride, ill and close to death and is later said to have remarked "Would that I had died in Jedburgh", as her troubles crowded upon her.

 

The impressive 16-century building belonged to the Kerr family, who lived in nearby Ferniehirst Castle, and its rooms contain tapestries, oil paintings, furniture, arms and armour and some of Mary's possessions (The house itself has an interesting feature, a left-handed staircase built for the Kerrs in the 16th century, to enable them, as left-handers, to wield their swords more easily). They map out her life from childhood in France, her return to Scotland to reign as Queen, her captivity in England and eventual execution at Fotheringhay Castle in Northampton in 1587. The Jedburgh display includes a lock of her hair and an unusual painted death mask of Mary. It was common practice to make a mask from the severed head as soon as possible after death. This example was found by the late Dr Charles Hepburn of Glasgow, in Peterborough where Mary was first buried. The memorabilia also includes jewellery, documents and a watch that she lost on her way to see Bothwell but which was retrieved from a hole in the ground some 250 years later. A painted panel typifies the turbulence that followed Mary through life. It depicts Mary, Lord Darnley her second (murdered) husband, Lord Bothwell (later her third husband) and David Rizzio, her (also murdered) secretary.

 

Mary, Queen of Scots Visitor Centre, a late 16th century tower house in the centre of historic Jedburgh, reflects the proud association of the town with 'Queen Mary,' who stayed here in 1566. A wonderful collection of objects associated with Mary has been gathered and put on show, reflecting the cult that has grown up around her. Each room has a different focus. The Rogues' Gallery introduces the individuals in the drama of Mary's life, whilst the Last Letter Room reveals Mary's final thoughts. The period feel inside the house has been preserved, while thoughtful design lets the story of Mary's life unfold in a lively way. Nearest RADAR wheelchair access toilet at Jedburgh Visitor Information Centre, Jedburgh lower Car park. Wheelchair access to ground floor only. As most exhibits are in the rooms above, there is an interactive exhibit on the ground floor detailing the history of the tower house and Jedburgh's connections with Mary Stuart. Assistance dogs are welcome.

 

Location : Jedburgh Castle Jail Museum, Castle Gate, Jedburgh TD8 6AS

Location : Mary Queen of Scots' Visitor Centre, Queen Street, Jedburgh TD8 6EN

Transport: Tweedbank (Scotrail) then bus (68). Bus Routes : 20, 21, 51, 68 and 131 stop nearby.

Opening Times Jail : 21st March - 1st November, Monday - Saturday, 10:00 to 16:30; Sunday 13:00 to 16:00

Opening Times Mary : March - November, Monday - Saturday, 09:30 to 16:30; Sunday 10:30 to 16:00

Tickets Jail: Free.

Tickets Mary: Free.

Tel. Jail: 01835 864750

Tel. Mary: 01835 864750