The Warwick House of Correction or Bridewell stood on the corner between Saltisford Rock (now Theatre Street) and Bridewell Lane (formerly Wallditch and now Barrack Street); the site is roughly where the central library was located until recently. Bridewells were named after the notorious one in London opened in 1552 in Bride Well. The House of Correction in Warwick was first mentioned in 1625 when a rented house in Wallditch was used (though it may have been in use earlier). A purpose-built House of Correction was erected nearby and opened in 1687. The great fire of 1694 destroyed this building (along with the gaol) but it was rebuilt. A new House of Correction was built by Henry Couchman in the late 18th century.
1851 Board of Health Map
The 1851 Board of Health map shows considerable detail including an upper yard surrounded by the Chapel, chaplain’s room, infirmary, day rooms, cells and solitary cells, a lower yard with a corn mill, flour rooms, store room, lumber room, receiving room etc. and a female prison (facing onto Bridewell Lane) with the School room, Matron’s House, Governor’s House, Kitchen and Cook House. The Bridewell remained in use until 1860 and the building was clearly still there in 1972 (see photo: it is the white 3-storey building).
Who went to the House of Correction?
Houses of Correction were originally intended to keep beggars and vagrants off the streets but increasingly became used to imprison offenders. Until the mid 19th century, those convicted of minor offences at the Quarter Sessions were usually sent to the House of Correction. Sentences with hard labour were the norm: this might involve working in the kitchen for the women and in the mill for the men. Sentences to the House of Correction last appear in the quarter session minutes of 1860, after which the newly-built gaol in Cape Road was used instead.
Board of Health Map, 1851, Warwickshire County Record Office reference CR 1618
Quarter session Minutes, Warwickshire County Record Office reference QS 39