Talks

Prison for the Poor - Gainsborough House, Dorset’s old bridewell
by Barry Brock

Date: Thursday 15 February 2024

This talk tells the story of Dorset’s old bridewell, located here in Sherborne, and what happened after its closure.

Prison for the Poor - Gainsborough House, Dorset’s old bridewell
Prison for the Poor - Gainsborough House, Dorset’s old bridewell
Prison for the Poor - Gainsborough House, Dorset’s old bridewell

For two hundred years or so, from the latter part of sixteenth to the end of the eighteenth centuries, Gainsborough House and its associated buildings served as Dorset’s bridewell. For a hundred years before that, it had been part of Sherborne’s Benedictine monastery, and for one hundred and fifty years after ceasing to be a bridewell it was - a brewery; home to the Sherborne Journal; a Sherborne School boarding house; a dentist’s; a garage; and an antiques business. Now the old bridewell serves to provide comfortable homes for several families. This talk tells its story.

Barry Brock moved to Sherborne in 1967, when his father became landlord of the Antelope Hotel, but then he left to pursue a career in industrial relations and human resource management. Returning to Sherborne in 2004, he has developed a keen interest in the story of Sherborne’s inns and breweries, and in the wider industrial and commercial history of the town and its buildings. He spends time scrambling around roof spaces, as he prepares and publishes histories of Sherborne houses.

Barry was manager of the Somerset & Dorset Family History Society’s Family History Centre for five years from 2011, and was Chairman of the Sherborne Museum Association from 2014 to 2018. He remains responsible for the Museum’s Abstract series of publications.

Download Available: SHS Brock Talk image Gainsborough House rear.jpg

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