Bristol Gaol

Bristol Gaol

Bristol Gaol

Atheist Charles Southwell was imprisoned in Bristol Gaol for blasphemous libel in 1842.

Southwell had a written an article in his periodical, the Oracle of Reason,  criticising the Bible. For this he was sentenced to a year in Bristol Gaol and fined £100, an enormous sum. He served the full sentence and was released on 6 February 1843.

While in prison he wrote a pamphlet entitled ‘Paley refuted in his own words’ and  probably wrote the autobiographical ‘The Confessions of a Freethinker’.

The gaol was closed in 1883 and largely demolished in 1898.


All that remains to mark the site now is the  granite front entrance on Cumberland Road, Bristol. It resembles a small castle complete with its rusting mock portcullis and a small section of outer wall.

Also see…

[google-map-sc zoom="15"]