THIS photograph of the Monmouth County Gaol marks 180 years since protestors were imprisoned there following the Chartist Rising.

There were 22 deaths and 50 wounded after the battle at the Westgate Hotel on November 4, 1839, following the rising and march on Newport.


The authorities acted swiftly to arrest the leaders and imprison them here. The gaol was full to capacity and the chartists were three men to a cell following imprisonment.

A grand jury met on December 10, 1839 to decide who should stand trial for treason, and was then adjourned until December 31, 1839, when 12 of the 14 men facing trial for high treason appeared in court at Shire Hall. The chartists were chained together, and from then Monmouth became the site of the last mass treason trial in Britain.

John Frost was the first to be tried on January 8, 1840. Zephaniah Williams was tried on January 13 and William Jones was tried a day later.

All three were found “guilty, with mercy”. Their sentences of death by hanging, followed by quartering, were then subject to the queen and her government's mercy, and they were commuted to transportation.

The gaol, which stood at the northern end of Monmouth off the Hereford Road, opened in 1790 and was built on the designs of the first prison reformer John Howard. It was closed in 1869, and its functions were transferred to the new prison at Usk.

It was demolished in 1884, except for the gatehouse which was the site of public executions on its flat roof until 1859.