Reading Prison

The present Reading Prison was built by the Berkshire justices in 1844. It became the new county gaol.

The BRO has inherited a small but fascinating archive from the prison that details its history from Victorian times until its closure in November 2013.

During 2013, we ran a research project into the prison's role as a place of internment. This project was funded by the AHRC as a partnership with the University of Reading's English Literature Department. Called Enemies of the State, it investigated the experience of Irish internees after the Easter Rising of 1916. See Enemies of the State.

You can read more about the project via the links below.

In 2014, we ran a similar project that looked at the Victorian prison. This project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and was also a partnership with the University of Reading. Please click the link to 'Oscar Wilde and Reading Gaol' to find out more.

To find out what we may have on this subject, why not get in touch via the Contact Us page.

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Enemies of the state

From 22 October 2014 to 6 February 2015 there was a public exhibition at the BRO to mark the closure of Reading Prison.

The exhibition presented archival materials from the prison together with publications relating to Oscar Wilde's contribution to literary and cultural life.

Also on display were specially commissioned photographs taken of the prison at the moment that it was closed.

The event was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Sonning Flowers, and was created by BRO together with the University of Reading.

Also available below are a series of short stories written by children in Year 8, and inspired by the Victorian gaol.

A short film about the event is available on this page.

To find out what we may have on this subject, why not get in touch via the Contact Us page.

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Oscar Wilde and Reading Gaol – Year 8 short stories 1

Oscar Wilde and Reading Gaol – Year 8 short stories 2