The Old Prison at Northleach

A fascinating 18th century building in the Cotswold market town of Northleach and a unique historic visitor attraction.

A visit to the Old Prison offers you a unique glimpse into life in a 19th century house of correction. Built in the 1790s this was once a fine example of a model prison used to inspire better care and rehabilitation of prisoners throughout Britain and further afield. It even served as a blueprint for London's Pentonville Prison.

Over the years the building has seen many changes of use including a police station, petty sessional court and more recently a heritage centre. Today you can still see one of the original cell blocks built in 1844 along with the court room.

The Old Prison is also home to the Escape to the Cotswolds visitor centre, the Rural Life Collection and the Cotswold Lion Cafe.

Opening times

March to October:           Daily, 9.30am to 4.30pm
November to February:  Tuesdays to Sundays, 9.30am to 4.30pm.

The Cotswold Lion Cafe

Housed in the Old Prison, the Cotswold Lion Cafe offers a wide range of delicious home-made and locally sourced lunches, sandwiches, soups and cakes along with speciality teas and coffee.

It is a perfect venue for hiring for your own private event, party or celebration. Our unique Court Room is also available - ideal for a business or group meeting, workshop or similar event.

Contact: Jessica Hughes, Cafe Manager on 01451 861563 or email:


Escape to the Cotswolds! - the centre for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Housed in the Old Prison at Northleach, "Escape to the Cotswolds" is the centre for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a place where you can find out more about this beautiful landscape and how people have helped shape it over thousands of years.

Through imaginatively designed information panels you can learn about the dinosaurs that first roamed the area, how geology has shaped the landscape, how the wealth of the area came as a result of the 'golden fleece' of the Cotswolds sheep and how so many people have left their own marks in the landscape - from Neolithic burial chambers and Iron Age hill forts, through to roman roads and villas, medieval churches and right up to the present day conservationists who are helping to look after the place for our future generations.

Events and activities

Take a look at the right hand side of the page to see our many events and activities taking place throughout the year. 

Talks, tours and private group visits

As well as a range of events and activities available throughout the year, you can also book your own private group tour, guided walk or themed talk  with a wide range of topics available.  

Sample List of talks available:
1. The Jurassic beneath your feet: the Geology, Fossils & Landscape around Northleach.
2. History of Northleach over the past 100 years.
3. Geology and Quarrying in the Cotswolds.
4. The Conservation Work of the Cotswold Wardens.
5. The Cotswold Way National Trail.
6. Wildflowers of the Cotswolds.
7. Managing Woodllands for Wildlife.
8. Managing Grasslands for Wildlife.

Guided Tours and Walks available:
1. Guided Tour of the History of Northleach Old Prison.
2. Guided Tour around the Medieval Town of Northleach – see the visible signs of history from the 13th Century to the present day.
3. Guided Tour of Northleach – one of England’s finest Norman “Planted” Towns. Discover why hundreds of these market towns were set up in England and Wales over a period of 250 years following the Norman Invasion of 1066.
4. Guided Geology & Landscape Trails – see how drainage patterns, settlement patterns and the shape of the landscape reflect the geology beneath our feet. Local routes available, i.e. Northleach to Hampnett return.

Please contact Rachel Cawte for further details:

The Rural Life Collection

Visitors to 'Escape' will also have the opportunity to take a look around the unique Lloyd Baker Rural Life Collection - the largest publicly owned regional collection of agricultural 'bygones' in the country.



 LOCATION: Click here to view location on Google Maps.

For further information, please call the Cotswolds Conservation Board on 01451 862000.