TQ3184NE CALEDONIAN ROAD
635-1/44/129 (East side)
Pentonville Prison, A, B, C and D
wings, and chapel wing
Prison. 1840-42. Designed by Colonel Joshua Jebb in
association with William Crawford and Whitworth Russell;
addition of 220 cells in 1867; the vaulted roof removed and a
storey added 1871-90; alterations to windows, 1910-14;
reroofing and other alterations in progress at the time of
inspection. Brown brick, stone and stucco, roofs where visible
of steel covered with PVC. The cell-blocks are four long wings
which radiate north (A wing), north-east (B wing), south-east
(C wing) and south (D wing) from the eastern end of the chapel
Chapel wing. Stucco and brick, roof obscured by parapet.
Rusticated basement. The principal front faces west and has a
central, segmental-arched window in the basement, formerly an
entrance, with a flat-arched window either side; giant Doric
order to three bays above, with outer antae and inner engaged
columns, all blocked and the faces of the blocks faceted;
round-arched windows between now blank; entablature and
parapet much rebuilt. Returns have brick to half-basement and
ground floor with segmental-arched windows, stucco above with
four round-arched windows to the chapel with pilasters
between, again blocked and faceted; entablature and parapet;
late C20 additions to north return.
A wing is of five storeys and 28 cells long; segmental-arched
windows set back under a segmental arch; the gable end has a
five-light window with mullions and transoms of stone, now
rendered; the window is in two sections, the lower section
flat-arched, the upper round-arched with radiating mullions;
roof of PVC-coated steel.
B wing is of four storeys over basement, and 37 cells long;
the windows are variously flat-arched, segmental-arched, and
segmental-arched set back under a segmental arch; the gable
end has a five-light window as for A wing, with the lower
section set into an apse-like parapeted and chamfered bay;
roof of PVC-coated steel.
C wing is of four storeys over basement, apart from a central
section of 9 windows which was hit by a bomb in 1941 and
rebuilt to three storeys in 1958 as the education block. The
wing has 11 windows west of the edcuation block, and 15 east
of it; the windows are variously flat-arched,
segmental-arched, and segmental-arched set back under a
segmental arch; the gable end has a five-light window as on B
wing; roof of PVC-coated steel only where visible.
D wing is of five storeys and 27 cells long; segmental-arched
windows set back under a segmental arch; gable end has a
five-light window as for A wing; roof of PVC-coated steel.
INTERIOR: The original plan of the prison survives: the wings
are top-lit atria with galleried cells down either side,
converging in such a way that the central well of each wing
can be viewed from a single point at the end of the chapel
wing; other original features include the bracketed galleries
(but not the stairs or handrails to the galleries except in A
wing), the entrances to the cells in the form of a segmental
arch set back under a segmental-arch, and many of the cell
doors, though the latter are currently being replaced.
Pentonville was the most influential example of prison
architecture in the Victorian period. Known when it was built
as the 'Model Prison', it embodied two principles whose
influence extended up to about 1900: a radial plan for ease of
supervision, which survives today; and the separate cell
system, which aimed to reform prisoners by isolating them from
each other; the separate cell system was first adopted on a
large and thorough scale among British prisons at Pentonville.
(Historians' file, English Heritage London Division).
Listing NGR: TQ3069784574