Coventry had a gaol from the mid-14th century onwards. In 1675 it was located near the Cathedral between Gaol Lane (now Pepper Lane) and Cuckoo Lane. It was rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries, but still contained horrid dungeons that shocked visitors. The Bridewell or house of correction was originally located in part of the former Bablake College, where prisoners were employed in making cloth. This Bridewell was taken down in 1831 and a new gaol and house of correction built in the gaol area near the Cathedral. However this much-improved gaol complex was only used until 1860 when all the prisoners were moved to the new gaol in Warwick and the building was sold.
The last remaining building
All that now remains of the gaol is the Governor’s House (presumably also built in 1831). This rather handsome building is in fact in Pepper Lane (even though the street sign says Bayley Lane – though the latter is a very appropriate name for a street with a prison in!) The gaol stood conveniently next door to the old Court House and opposite a fine timber-framed house just visible in the photo. It is miraculous that it survived the bombing during the Second World War.
This post draws on information in the Victoria County History for Warwickshire, Volume 8.