The Hexham Old Gaol and Moot Hall is situated in the market town of Hexham in Northumberland, reputed to be the oldest purpose-built prison in England; it was built around 1330 under the order of Margot and William Melton, the Archbishop of York and Lord of Hexham and both are scheduled Ancient Monuments. The gaol held prisoners captured within Hexhamshire district, an area ruled over by the Archbishop of York and his Bailiff’s and his officials administered the district from the Moothall. Until a new County jail was built in the 1820’s in Morpeth, the building was still in use as the Hexham House of Correction for petty thieves. In later life the building was used as a bank, solicitors' office, a home for the Rifle Volunteers, a Billiards Club, and fire watch building during the Second World War.
By the 1970’s the building was in a poor condition and the council carried out much needed repair work re-opening the building in 1980 as a museum and tourist information centre.
In 2005 as part of a £1.5m restoration and refurbishment scheme funded by the Historic Hexham Trust and carried out by Historic Property Restoration, the building was converted into a working museum. Works included a completely new mechanical and electrical installation, major structural alterations with steel supporting framework and a scenic glass lift and lift shaft. The lift gives access to all four floors of the building including the impressive dungeon.
HPR carried out repairs to the roof including new leadwork, provided bespoke joinery items manufactured in our joinery works at Prudhoe, and completed a raft of external works to comply with DDA regulation. We also reinstated a spiral stone staircase previously removed in the Victorian period and completed the internal fit-out and final decoration providing a new and improved exhibition space