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Hexham Old Gaol

Four floors packed with information

• Delve into the dark history of the Old Gaol, the Shire and the Borders
• Enjoy an unforgettable learning experience
• Find out about the terrifying Border Reiver raids and the tragic consequences
• Watch the special “Reiver Raid” film made exclusively for the Old Gaol
• Discover the area’s history and explore the buildings the Borderers lived in

This season our temporary display is on the Battle of Hexham, fought in May 1464, 550 years ago. We have the helmet of the Duke of Somerset on display. He was on the losing Lancastrian side. He was locked up in Hexham Gaol, and executed in the Market Place the day after the battle. The Battle of Hexham was part of the Wars of the Roses.

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Hexham Old Gaol Background

Click here to see inside. The building of Hexham Gaol was ordered June 1330 making it the oldest purpose-built prison in England. It held prisoners captured in Hexhamshire - the area ruled over by the Archbishop of York - and his Bailiff and officials ran the Shire on his behalf from the nearby Moothall.

hexham_010_720_pxls_wide_200The Gaol was used until the 1820s, when a new county gaol was built at Morpeth. By 1828 most prisoners were held in Morpeth Gaol, and the Hexham House of Correction was used for petty thieves. More recently the building has been used as a bank, solicitors' office, home for the Rifle Volunteers, a Billiards Club, and a place from which to firewatch in the Second World War. By the mid-1970s the building was in a bad state and following major repairs it reopened as a museum and tourist information centre.

Hexham Heydays 1688-1838 HLF Project

This project has now finished.  You can view our digital record alongside some of the other projects at:-

Education at Hexham Old Gaol & Moothall

We run Tudor workshops for educational groups. We cover Tudor life, food, music and manners, the 1538 Gaolbreak from Hexham Gaol, and offer costume and handling sessions. 

Find out more about our Tudor Education Workshops

This year is the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Hexham, 1464, one of the Wars of the Roses battles. The Duke of Somerset was captured after the battle and executed in Hexham Market Place. His helmet forms part of a display about the Battle of Hexham this season, which opened for the anniversary of the Battle in May 2014. We also have shield making and brass rubbing activities, exploring how people's costumes, armour and images were presented at the time.

We offer Medieval Life sessions for educational groups, please contact Janet Goodridge by phone (01670) 624524 or email for further details.

Green Museums

green_tourism_awardHexham Old Gaol has been upgraded to "silver" under the Green Tourism Business Scheme from "bronze". Recently we installed low energy lights in one of the galleries, and hope to replace more soon. We welcome comments and ideas from visitors to help us improve our grading and service. Visitors using public transport, walking or cycling, qualify for reduced admission fees. You can take the train that runs between Newcastle and Carlisle, or the bus between those cities. In the summer, there's the Hadrian's Wall AD122 bus, that starts and ends at Hexham Tourist Information Centre, just 2 minutes down the hill from Hexham Old Gaol. So you can visit us then head out to explore Northumberland's dramatic landscapes up the Wall!

Hexham has many independent shops, so you can shop locally, support local specialist shops and save carbon! There is a  regular market on Tuesdays, and markets on Saturdays. There is a farmers' market two Saturdays every month.

We have a Green Information Board, with information leaflets to borrow with walks in the area, exploring the natural history of the area. We also have a 'Green (Half) Day in Hexham' leaflet to borrow for people wishing to reduce their carbon footprint by spending a half or whole day exploring Hexham and the area on foot. Tyne Green is close to the Old Gaol, providing somewhere to have a picnic, walk your dog, stretch your legs and enjoy the natural life of the River Tyne. Well behaved dogs are allowed into the Old Gaol.

If you would like copies of any of our green information, including our Green Policy and how to get to the site by public transport, please email or telephone (01670) 624523.

More information on the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS), and other GTBS members in the area can be found at

Opening times

April - end September: 11am - 4.30pm  Tuesday - Saturday plus Bank Holidays and school summer holiday Mondays. October and November and February and March: 11am - 4.30pm Tuesday and Saturday (plus Tuesday - Saturday in February and October half term school holidays)

On Saturdays come along and enjoy medieval brassing rubbings, shieldmaking, and find out more about the Battle of Hexham. We have a replica brass of St George from the 1300s. Come along and make a rubbing of England's patron saint!

Open other times by appointment and for special events. Please phone for details (01670) 624523.

Admission Prices

Adults £3.95
OAP £3.50
Child £2.50
Family (up to 5 people) £12
Other concessions available, including for Northumberland residents. Please ask at reception. Well behaved dogs are allowed in the building, free admission.

Gift Aid your ticket for a one year season ticket, (UK tax payers only), giving you free admission for the rest of the year to all our special events, including Crime, Punishment, Torture?!

Hexham Old Gaol
Hall Gate
NE46 1XD
Tel: 01670 624523

Please click here to email