Record Details

NHER Number:46390
Type of record:Building
Name:The Old Gaol, Old Market Street


This gaol was rebuilt in 1796 on the site of an earlier gaol, and according to an external plaque was enlarged in 1816. It is constructed of flint with gault brick dressings, although the southeast gable wall was rebuilt in the 20th century in yellow brick. The two main doors are made from heavy planks and are set in round-headed recesses. Over the doors are panels with carved shackles and four barred cell windows have been preserved on the second floor. The building ceased to function as a gaol sometime in the 19th century but continued as a police station until 1936. From 1936 onwards it has been used for private housing and the upper floor was converted to flats in the mid-1980's.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TL 8728 8276
Map Sheet:TL88SE

Full description


April 1951. Listed Grade II.
Gaol. Re-built 1796, enlarged 1816. Converted to flats late 20th century. Flint with gault brick dressings. Roof of black-glazed pantiles. Southeast gable wall rebuilt 20th century in yellow brick. Three storeys in four bays. All windows under segmental heads. Two heavy plank doors set in round-headed recesses, between which are a 10/10 and an 8/8 unhorned sash windows. Similar 8/8 sash window right of right-hand door; blind window left of left-hand door. First floor lit through four 4/4 sash windows. Over doors are panels with carved shackles and in centre is a plaque: 'This Gaol was enlarged in the year 1816'. Four barred cell windows to 2nd floor. Dentil eaves cornice under a gabled roof. Internal gable-end chimneystacks and a central ridge chimneystack. Northwest return has two two-light casements each floor with shouldered lights. Interior not inspected.
See (S1) and (S2) for further details.

June 1983. Building Survey.
Thetford Gaol, corner of Old Market Street and Ford Street [1].
Enlarged 1816. Flint façade to Old Market Street: three storeys, brick trimming. Ground floor of five bays - doorway in second bay from southeast and attached to window in northwestern bay, plaque above. First floor only four bays, with plaques between two of the windows. One of the plaques has a date and some chains. Top floor of four bays, small arched windows with bars. Southwest façade to Ford Street has identical top floor and three windows on the first floor. The remainder is hidden by extensions. Paired windows on ground and first floors in northwest gable. Interior of top floor retains three cells (the partition wall between two cutting in half one of the southwest windows) with corridor to northwest and large room at northwest end.
The interior of the ground and first floors has been modernised and converted to two houses. However, the first floor retains a large studded door in the corridor and a similar door provides access to the stairs to the second floor. The second floor retains many of its original features. Almost all of the windows are barred. The northwestern end of the second floor is occupied by one large room and fallen plaster has revealed a kingpost roof here. The room retains a bench with much graffiti and additional graffiti is visible on the floor. This has been recorded (see S3). The other end of the building is divided into several small cells arranged along a corridor.
See (S3) and (S4) for further details.
E. Rose (NAU), 1983.

Plans are in place to conver the second floor is to be converted into two flats. As many original features are to be retained as possible.
See (S5), (S6) and (S7) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 19 December 2008.

October 1988.
Research is being conducted on the history of the dungeon below the Gaol referenced in documentary sources.
See (S8) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 19 December 2008.

The building was last used as a gaol in the 19th century, but the ground floor continued to be used as the Thetford police station until 1936. From this time it has been used for private accommodation, becoming Nos 4 and 6 Old Market Street. The upper floor was converted to flats in the mid-1980's.
See (S9) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 09 July 2008.

Monument Types

  • GAOL (18th Century to 19th Century - 1796 AD to 1900 AD?)
  • POLICE STATION (19th Century to Mid 20th Century - 1900 AD? to 1936 AD)
  • HOUSE (Mid 20th Century to 21st Century - 1936 AD to 2100 AD)
  • APARTMENT (Late 20th Century to 21st Century - 1985 AD to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 716.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1208054.
<S2>Publication: Osborne, D.. 1985. A view of Thetford. p 10.
<S3>Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. 1983. Building Report. Old Gaol, Old Market Street.. Building Report.
<S4>Photograph: Rose, E.. 1983. CLJ 13-23. Thetford Gaol..
<S5>Unpublished Document: 2011. Planning Application. 1983.
<S6>Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans. 1983.
<S7>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1983. Christmas in jail was a rattling good time. 31 December.
<S8>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Bid to uncover prison secrets. 4 October.
<S9>Photograph: Osborne, D.. 2000. Thetford, A Century Remembered. From 1900 to the Present Day.. Part two. p 15.

Related records - none

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