The grand entrance is all that survives of the prison where offenders were punished with the treadwheel and crank

Prisoners convicted of less serious offences at Lincoln Castle assizes usually served sentences of several weeks, months or one or two years at gaols known as Houses of Correction. In Lincolnshire, the larger of these gaols were located at Louth, Spilsby, Folkingham, Kirton in Lindsey and Spalding.

The regime was intended to reform prisoners through hard work. And the conditions and punishments they endured were deliberately grim ─ to deter them from re-offending, and others from following in the criminals' footsteps.

Hard labour

Convicts sentenced to hard labour at Folkingham House of Correction could expect back-breaking toil on the treadwheel or the crank. The power generated by these devices was sometimes used to grind flour or pump water ─ but the main function was the punishment.

The prisoners rise at 5.30 in summer and at 7 in winter, and go to bed at 8 p.m. Those sentenced to hard labour work on the treadwheel or crank mill 7 hours daily.

The treadwheel is unproductive. The crank mill is used to pump water for the use of the prison. There are also 7 hard labour machines in the prison, used principally for vagrants, disorderly prisoners, and boys. The number of revolutions required to be performed is 10,000 daily. Prisoners are occasionally employed as tailors, shoemakers, [and at]sewing, knitting, washing, and repairing clothes, white-washing ...

Folkingham County House of Correction inspection report 1866

The prison was closed in 1878, and all that remains today is the imposing entrance. In 1982 it was acquired by the Landmark Trust, a charity which rescues historic buildings in distress and gives them a new life by letting them for holidays. 

Crime, punishment and prisoners

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