This grand entrance is all that survives of a prison once intended for minor offenders. This is a noble piece of architecture, once intended to intimidate, in a beautiful and interesting place.
The idle and disorderly
The House of Correction shares the site of the once great castle that dominated the village of Folkingham in the Middle Ages. Such local prisons were originally intended for minor offenders – mostly the idle (regarded as subversive) and the disorderly. Folkingham had a house of correction by 1611, replaced in 1808 by a new one built inside the castle moat and intended to serve the whole of Kesteven. This was enlarged in 1825 and given this grand new entrance. In 1878 the prison was closed and the inner buildings converted into ten dwellings, all demolished in 1955.
This grand entrance alone survives. It was designed by Bryan Browning, an original and scholarly Lincolnshire architect also responsible for the Sessions House at Bourne. It is a bold and monumental work, borrowing from the styles of Vanbrugh, Sanmichele and Ledoux. Apart from cowing the malefactor it was intended to house the turnkey and the Governor’s horses and carriage. Now it gives entrance only to a moated expanse of grass – a noble piece of architecture in a beautiful and interesting place.
Folkingham is one of those agreeable places that are less important than they used to be. It has a single very wide street, lined on each side by handsome buildings, with a large 18th-century inn across the top end. Behind the houses, to the east, lie the moat and earthworks of the medieval castle. Woolsthorpe Manor, home of Sir Isaac Newton, and Belton House are nearby.