This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.


List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.


List entry Number: 1393182



The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority

District: Hammersmith and Fulham

District Type: London Borough


National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: II*

Date first listed: 06-Mar-2009

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: LBS

UID: 504158

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The gatehouse at Wormwood Scrubs Prison is for designation at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* It has major importance as the gateway to a prison complex whose innovative design by Edmund du Cane was to prove highly influential internationally; * It is of very high architectural quailty, with good detailing and use of materials; the medallions announcing the prison's reforming ethos; * It has important group value with the prison cell blocks and chapel, designated at Grade II and II* respectively.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


333/0/10104 DU CANE ROAD 06-MAR-09 Gatehouse at HMP Wormwood Scrubs

II* Prison gatehouse. Completed by 1885. The entrance to Wormwood Scrubs convict prison built 1874-1891 by Edmund Du Cane, Chairman of the Prison Commission, Director of Convict Prisons.

MATERIALS Red brown brick in English bond, and Portland stone. Flush Portland stone quoins, slightly moulded plinths, bands, arcades and cornices. Terracotta medallions. The gates have been replaced.

PLAN: A gateway flanked by a pair of symmetrical octagonal towers in the manner of a medieval gatehouse.

EXTERIOR: Central round-arched entrance, on slender shafts with simple cushion capitals, beneath a heavy corbel table and flat moulded parapet. The outer face of each tower is broader than the flanks. Each tower has flush quoins and I-shaped panels, a deep moulded band at the height of wall parapet and narrow moulded band just below the height of parapet over the entrance. The upper stage of each has a continuous moulded frieze, a shallow blind arcade to each face and a moulded cornice carrying an octagonal tile roof. Each tower has a large terracotta bust in a moulded stone rondel, to left of Elizabeth Fry, to right of John Howard, penal reformers. The returns of each tower are more simply treated. The structures to each side and rear of the gatehouse are not of special interest. The perimeter wall has been largely rebuilt with an enlarged parapet and the corner towers removed, and is also not of special interest.

The gatehouse is standard form for the 1870s onwards. It was the richest element of the perimeter and in simplified form provided a model for subsequent prisons such as Norwich. Unlike earlier prisons gatehouses where the Governor's house was integral, it is a self-contained gateway. At Wormwood Scrubs staff were housed outside the prison on Du Cane Road. Some of these buildings survive but in poor condition. Remains of the former iron gateposts and railings survive in front of the entrance and fronting Du Cane Road. HISTORY: Wormwood Scrubs prison was designed by Edmund du Cane, Director of Convict Prisons, for the newly-established national Prison Commission of which he was chairman. He was an experienced military engineer, appointed to rationalise the prison system. The prison was built between 1874 and 1891, originally to house convicts, but by 1891 it had become a local prison. It was laid out in parallel blocks, adopting the 'telegraph pole' plan, which was a new plan form in Victorian prisons, unlike its predecessors such as Pentonville that were generally laid out radially. Some convict prisons already had simple parallel blocks but local prisons built under Joshua Jebb favoured the radial plan. The 'telegraph pole' plan provided a model for subsequent English prisons, such as Bristol and Norwich, following the 1877 Prison Act and was further developed in Fresnes, France and in the USA. Its origins may be found in the 'pavilion' plan hospitals advanced by Florence Nightingale after the Crimean War, based on European principles. These were designed to minimise the spread of infection allowing maximum circulation of fresh air. Wormwood Scrubs is very similar in general layout to the Herbert Military Hospital at Woolwich in that the blocks are aligned N-S to allow sunlight into each cell.

Designed and executed by the Prison Commission, it was built using convict labour living on site, using materials brought from other convict prisons or manufactured on site. Convicts lived in temporary accommodation on site until the cell blocks were habitable. As a result the cost was much lower than the norm, costing £97,155; that is, £70 7/- per cell compared with £161 17/3 per cell at Pentonville, which opened in 1842. The chapel (qv), dedicated to St Francis of Assisi, is probably the largest and perhaps finest prison chapel in England, completed in 1894. The gatehouse was built by 1885 and its striking elevation with the portrait medallions of prison reformers John Howard and Elizabeth Fry has become an iconic symbol of the English prison system.

During the 1880s the demand for convict prisons fell and most reverted to local prison status or were demolished. Women were housed there until female prisons such as Holloway were established. From the early C20 young offenders were housed in part of the prison, which provided a modified borstal system of education and training. The prison closed briefly from 1940-42 when it became a military site. On reopening it again housed young offenders until specialist units such as Feltham took over. In the 1990s the prison was refurbished. Many of the C19 service blocks were demolished and the cell blocks were linked by new buildings at the north end of the site.

REASON FOR DESIGNATION: The gatehouse at Wormwood Scrubs Prison is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* It has major importance as the entrance gateway to a prison complex whose innovative design by Edmund du Cane was to prove highly influential internationally * It is of very high architectural quality with fine detailing and use of materials; the medallions of Fry and Howard announcing the prison's reforming ethos * It has important group value with the prison cell blocks and chapel (qv)

SOURCES: Brodie, Croom & Davies, English Prisons, English Heritage (2002) P J Leonard, History of Wormwood Scrubs (1975) R Byrne, Prisons & Punishments of London (1992) Sir E F Du Cane, A Description of the Prison at Wormwood Scrubs (1895) R G Alford, Notes on the Buildings of English Prisons (1909-10) Vol I, ch II, p10-18 HMP Wormwood Scrubs, RCHME (1995) R Bowdler, Wormwood Scrubs Prison, English Heritage Historian's report (1994)

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Brodie, Croom, Davies, , English Prisons, (2002)
Byrne, R, Prisons and Punishments of London, (1992)
Cane, EF Du, A Description of the Prison at Wormwood Scrubs, (1895)
Leonard, PJ , History of Wormwood Scrubs, (1975)
Alford, R G , Notes on the buildings of English prisons, 1909-1910,

National Grid Reference: TQ 22202 81165


© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1393182 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 21-Sep-2017 at 10:26:36.

End of official listing