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Hexham House of Correction
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An easy almost drive by micro cache located at all that is left of a small forgotten building in Hexham.
This is the remaining part of the House of Correction which can be viewed by appointment only. This was the 1820s extension, built as men’s day and night cells. The cells are fireproof and the doors are made of steel. This is where John Martin was locked up, following his arrest for setting fire to York Minster.
Just over the road you can see a former tannery built over the burn now used as offices.
House of Correction Houses of Correction started as a Tudor experiment influenced by European philosophers. The aim was to both punish, and at the same time train, petty criminals so that they would become useful members of society. Simple crafts were taught to prisoners while in custody. This attempt failed, but houses of correction continued to be used across the country for petty criminals such as children who stole, prostitutes, ‘sturdy beggars’, and lunatics.
In 1783 it was reported that a house near Tyne Green was to be leased from Isabella Bell as a House of Correction. This had followed regular and repeated calls for a House of Correction in Hexham from 1712 to 1783. An advertisement was placed in the Newcastle Courant for a Keeper. Joseph Dagleas was appointed, and the House of Correction opened in 1784.
The most famous resident was Jonathan Martin, a man who had grown up in nearby Haydon Bridge. Jonathan came from an eccentric but talented family - his brothers included John Martin, a renowned North East artist, several of whose works can be seen in the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Jonathan was a tanner by trade. He had fought as a sailor in the Napoleonic Wars. He believed he had a mission to warn people about the coming wrath of God. He disrupted church services, wrote pamphlets and accused members of the clergy of living wicked and ungodly lives. From time to time he was locked up in prisons and lunatic asylums.By 1828 he had arrived in York. He left letters to the clergy in York Minster, warning them of what would happen if they did not change their wicked ways. Receiving no reply to these, Jonathan felt he was being ignored. He had a dream in which he believed God told him to set fire to York Minster. On 1st February 1829 Jonathan went to the Minster for the evening service. He hid in the Minster and waited until the church had been locked up for the night. He made piles of prayer books and cushions and set them alight. He escaped and went to Hexham. The fires burned slowly, and were not noticed until the next morning. It took fire engines from several towns to help fight the fire, which was eventually extinguished late that night. By this time the choir roof, screen, stalls, pulpit, throne and organ had all been destroyed. Posters offering a reward of one hundred pounds for his arrest were printed and circulated. Jonathan was arrested 4 days later and put in the Hexham House of Correction before being taken to York for trial. He admitted he had started the fire. The jury decided he was insane, and therefore not responsible for his actions. He was sent to a lunatic asylum in London, where he died nine years later.
The cache is a log only no swaps and bring a writing instrument.
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Last Updated: on 6/22/2018 12:52:48 PM Pacific Daylight Time (7:52 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum