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In 1576, an Act of Parliament empowered magistrates to build “Houses of Correction of Idleness”, where those able-bodied who were “unwilling to work”, including vagrants and beggars could be set to work. A “House of Correction” was generically known as a Bridewell.
In 1601, The Poor Law Act made parishes responsible for their own poor, as a reaction to the damage and confusion caused by wandering beggars, as experienced previously with the monks. Persons travelling through the area without a relevant pass obtained from the parish constable could be apprehended on sight and detained until brought before the courts. They could then be sentenced, and perhaps suffer other punishment, as wardens had to provide stocks and a whipping post for each parish. Money was occasionally given to some unfortunates such as sailors and actors, who might be allowed a small sum such as 6d, to enable them to continue on their way home. The impotent poor, if born or resident for three years in the village, were given a begging badge.
The whipping post at Folkingham found its way to the new prison, being the 3rd house down on the East side of the village square (No. 34). The stocks were removed from the market
place to a site close to the left hand side of the church gates. Later they were taken into the church itself, where they remain to this day, along with the remains of the whipping post.
The end of the Clinton Line in Folkingham occurred on 25th November 1692, with the death of Edward the 5th Earl of Lincoln and 13th Lord Clinton. His father had built Folkingham Manor House for him near the site of the castle, reputedly with materials from the castle. However, the son’s debts mounted to £18,000, and he sold the Manor House to Richard Wynne in 1690 for £24,000.
In turn, Richard’s great grandson Richard (Ricardo Guliemo Gasparo Melchior Baltazaro) Wynne found himself in financial difficulties, resulting in him selling the Manor House to Sir Gilbert Heathcote in 1788, and transporting his entourage to the Continent, where they led a pretty wild, exotic lifestyle.
The now completely derelict castle site was bought by the Justices of the Peace prior to 1808, and they began erecting a new prison, as the building in the village square was inadequate, and conditions intolerable. The new building cost £6,500, and was conveyed to South Kesteven Council in 1812. By the 1820s, most of the prisoners had found their way to the House of Correction via convictions that covered the full range of rural crime: felony (including theft, often of food, clothing and bedding, and receiving stolen goods), assault, vagrancy, offences against the game laws, and bastardy. This last one was one of the commonest causes of imprisonment, and one that carried a sentence of up to a year with hard labour or the treadwheel, the women concerned generally being treated notably more harshly than the men, the concern being that the cost of bringing up “fatherless children” would have to be borne by the parish if no other support was forthcoming.
Architect Bryan Browning who had designed Bourne Town Hall in 1821, was employed to expand the prison in 1825 and create an imposing gateway. The inmates were not hardened criminals, and would no doubt have been chilled on arrival by the dramatic entrance. In 1826, John Maples of Low Farm, Folkingham was named as Head Constable of Aveland Hundred, the local district.
Continuing to house mixed prisoners, many of them simply vagrants, the expansion cost a further £8,299.5s.31/2d, including a treadwheel, made by Messrs Tuxford of Boston. The treadwheel was initially used simply as an extra punishment for inmates who warranted hard labour, but was later modified to convey water around the prison. The stone for all the construction came from nearby Newton quarry.