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- Category: A
- Date Added: 04/11/1965
- Supplementary Information Updated: 26/03/1998
- Local Authority: Stirling
- Planning Authority: Stirling
- Burgh: Stirling
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NS 79233 93615
- Coordinates: 279233, 693615
Thomas Brown, 1847; restored and converted to museum and offices 1994-6, Stirling District Council architects, main contractor Ogilvies. 3-storey and basement, 7-bay, V-plan prison with crenellated parapets and large round tower to W. Dark whinstone squared and snecked rubble with contrasting droved ashlar dressings and quoins. Round- and segmental-headed openings; hoodmoulds, stone mullions, concave-moulded and chamfered arrises.
E (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: symmetrical. Centre bay with steps up to deeply chamfered and hoodmoulded round-arched doorway, 2-leaf panelled timber door with decorative-astragalled fanlight, hoodmoulded windows in flanking bays, 3 round-headed windows above and parapet over with centre bay extending into 2nd floor tower with hoodmoulded, round-headed tripartite window below machicolated parapet. Flanking single storey bays each with window and parapet, and segmental-headed window to each floor of recessed face behind. Full-height, parapetted outer bays with segmental-headed openings, door to ground at left and window to right, window to each floor above in machicolated, recessed panel.
ROUND TOWER: 4-stage engaged tower to centre bay of W elevation with small round 3-stage tower to NW corbelled out from 1st floor, and 3-stage polygonal tower to E rising above 3rd stage. 3 segmental-headed windows to 1st stage (raised basement) and to 2nd stage (ground floor); 3rd stage with 3 windows to 1st and 2nd floors connected by narrow vertical panels and continuous hoodmould forming rounded windowheads at 2nd floor; 4th stage with 3 glazed oculi below machicolated parapet. Small corbelled tower with 2 gunloops to 1st stage, 1 to 2nd stage and further smaller loop to 3rd stage with machicolated parapet. Blind polygonal tower with crenellated parapet.
W ELEVATION: 13-bay elevation with round tower (see above) to centre and segmental-headed openings. Bays to right of centre with 4 small windows (cells) high up in raised basement, regular fenestration and parapet above; 2 slightly higher advanced outer bays with similar fenestration. Bays to left of centre mirror those to right.
N ELEVATION: raised basement with round-headed doorway and 2-leaf panelled timber door to left, 3 close-set round-headed windows to centre, and each floor above with 3 windows to centre (as above) those to 1st and 2nd floors in machicolated panel, and narrow round-headed lights to flanking bays.
S ELEVATION: mirrors N elevation.
Multi-pane glazing throughout, some windows retain bars. Graded grey slate. Cast-iron downpipes with decorative rainwater hoppers.
INTERIOR: all cells to W. Basement cells retained with Victorian jail and military prison detail; cantilevered galleries above converted to offices; central beehive panoptican and former Governor?s office with corbelled viewing bay.
BOUNDARY WALLS, GATEPIERS AND GATES: St John Street entrance with crenellated squared and snecked rubble boundary walls and square-plan, crenellated ashlar gatepiers each with gunloop to E and sentry hole to W, cast-iron gates. Inner wall with segmental-headed archway, crenellated parapet and cast-iron gates flanked by semicircular-coped rubble walls. Further high boundary walls to N, S and W with triangular-plan outbuilding to SW angle.
Statement of Special Interest
Built to replace the Tolbooth (noted as the worst prison in Britain in 1842), Stirling Old Town Jail is a fine example of the castellated revival style so popular with prison reformers of the earlier 19th century. The building boasted 57 properly ventilated individual cells with a basic central heating system, debtors dayroom, washing areas and roof walkway, with every cell visible from the panopticon. The building was used as a military prison from 1888-1935, eventually falling into serious disrepair. In 1985 Stirling District Council purchased the property, restoration commenced in 1992, and the visitor attraction (run jointly by Stirling and Trossachs Tourist Board and the District Council) opened on 2 April 1996.
E Sturgeon & E Muir STIRLING OLD TOWN JAIL. C McKean STIRLING AND THE TROSSACHS (1985), p30.
Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.
Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.
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