A very rare original inspection hatch fromNewgate Prison that was demolished in 1903. Newgate Prison had a long history orginally dating back to 1166. The prison was added to and rebuilt a numebr of times over the next few hundred years. In 1724 the notorious Jack Shepard was held at Newgate and beacme famous for escaping on numerous occasions. He was something of an escape artist and became a public sensation, before being finally caught and hanged. Many notorious criminals were held in Newgate over the years and its stories were recorded forever in the 'Newgate Calendar' a salicous record of true crime stories of its inhabitants, published in the early 19th century, that became hugely popular.
It was finally demolished in the early 20th century when room was needed for the expansion of The Old Bailey Central Criminal Court which still functions in London.
All of the contents of Newgate Prison were auctioned off by Messrs Douglas Young and Co 1903, in what was catalogued as an 'interesting sale by auction of historic relics of the Old Gaol'. Henry Hookey was the auctioneer and everything was sold off from the prison bell to stairs. The auction lasted five hours and raised £980.
Lot 173 is described as: "The two following lots comprise the door and grille through which the notorious criminal Jack Shepherd escaped the last time at Newgate Prison - The 6 ft by 2ft by 3 in old oak and iron bound door with lock, bolts and inspection hole and fittings, in heavy deal frame leading from the chapel staircase to roof staircase.”
A rare and surving photo showing lot 173 which shows the actual door - which has the inspection hatch missing - exactly the same size and shape of this door. The photo is including with the other photos in this page (reproduced courtesy of www.alamy.com)
The hatch has an exhibition label from 1912 on the back with the provenance of the door.