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Bradon Forest School

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Year 9 trip to Oxford Prison and Castle

Miss Mazelin reports: Last week, Year 9 took the opportunity to visit a primary source to learn how the site has changed over time. As part of their work on the history of crime and punishment, students learnt how the castle changed into a prison and what developments were made by the Victorians to reform the use of imprisonment as a punishment.

Students were given a tour of the medieval tower where prisoners of war were kept in the 1600’s in appalling conditions. They were shown the size of the cells and told about different prisoners who had experienced their punishments and attempted executions there. The tour finished with an opportunity to do the pointless work of the crank and the treadmill with students appreciating how monotonous a prisoner’s life was.

In the afternoon, our students took part in a session led by the education team that allowed them to investigate punishments used for various crimes since the medieval era and see how punishments have changed for the same crime. In class we will follow this up by evaluating the reasons for these changes in punishment – including the end of the death penalty in the 20th century.

Several members of staff at the site commented on the politeness of our students at various points throughout the day – well done Year 9!

The prison was in use until 1996 before being converted into a hotel – Mal Maison. Executions used to take place on a platform here with thousands in attendance. The hotel keeps one of their rooms to show the conditions of a cell that was used until its point of closure.