Former chapel to former Camp Hill Prison


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
H M Prison, Camp Hill, High Road, Camp Hill, Newport, PO30 5PB


Ordnance survey map of Former chapel to former Camp Hill Prison
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Statutory Address:
H M Prison, Camp Hill, High Road, Camp Hill, Newport, PO30 5PB

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

Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Former prison chapel, built circa 1912 in Early English style.

Reasons for Designation

The former chapel at Camp Hill Prison, an Early English style chapel constructed circa 1912, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: a good quality Early English style chapel, one of the three most architecturally ambitious original prison buildings within the perimeter walls; * Rarity: Camp Hill Prison was the only Preventive Detention prison to be specially constructed and the form of the chapel, more like a small parish church than a prison chapel, represents the type of penal system being enforced, and is unique nationally; * Intactness: intact except, except for some portable furnishings; * Group value: the former chapel possesses group value with the Gate House and Administrative Offices, also part of the former prison complex.


The 1908 Prevention of Crime Act created a new form of imprisonment, Preventive Detention, based both on the USA Penal Reformatory System and 1850s Irish Intermediate Prisons, which aimed both to reform habitual criminals and protect society by removing criminals from it for longer. Criminals who had already served three prison terms, at the same time that they were being sentenced for a further term of imprisonment, could be given an additional term of Preventive Detention.

Building work started on Camp Hill Prison in 1909-10 for Male Preventive Detention Prisoners and it opened in 1912, although it was still being built in 1914-1915. It was the only prison of this type to be built.

The buildings were deliberately less institutional than a conventional prison and the regime was less onerous. Prisoners could earn small wages and grow vegetables to eat or sell to the prison. After two years of model behaviour at the Ordinary Grade they could progress to Special Grade, allowed additional visits, newspapers and tobacco. Those within two years of conditional discharge were eligible for the 'parole lines', 16 self-contained tenements within the prison but outside the walls. At the end of their sentence accommodation and jobs were found for them and their behaviour was monitored.

Camp Hill held Preventive Detainees until 1935 when it became a Borstal. During World War II it housed convicts but reverted to a Borstal again in 1946. During the late 1960s or 1970s the area of the prison was nearly doubled and additional prison wings and workshops were erected. Prisoners were moved out of Camp Hill in 2013.


Former prison chapel, built circa 1912 in Early English style.

MATERIALS: constructed from concrete blocks reported to have been made by prisoners from nearby Parkhurst Prison. Asbestos tiled roofs with a wooden cupola. Windows have cast iron grilles.

PLAN: five-bay nave with a single-bay chancel, north porch and south vestry.

EXTERIOR: the north front is gabled with a cross to the apex and kneelers. It has a triple lancet window with ornamental cast iron grilles over a projecting porch with an arched entrance, side-lights and buttresses and a ledged plank door. There is a plinth and also corner buttresses.

The east and west sides are of five bays with paired lancet windows with ornamental cast iron grilles, divided by buttresses. The chancel has a paired lancet window. The vestry on the north side has paired lancets and a tall chimney.

The south side has a pair of lancets and an arched entrance.

INTERIOR: the nave has a five-bay, arch-braced, boarded roof supported on stone corbels. There is an octagonal stone font with quatrefoil moulding on the central column and two steps. The large chancel arch has paired colonnettes on stone corbels. The chancel has rib vaulting and a large carved wooden reredos with two tiers of arches and a central gable. The west wall has a piscina and an arched entrance leading into the vestry.


Books and journals
, Lloyd, , Pevsner, The Buildings of England Isle of wight, (2006), 189
Brodie, Croom, Davies, , English Prisons, (2002), 168-171


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

End of official listing

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