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Executions: Prison Doors mini documentary

Prison architecture is hugely symbolic – as material representations of state authority, prisons provoke a range of emotions: from fear to defiance, from resilience to grief.

There are two imposing examples of prison architecture in the exhibition: the notorious Newgate prison door dating from the early 1780s and a door from a cell in Holloway prison used by thousands of female prisoners. Both items take on a strong and powerful presence in the gallery. As well as being symbols of state power they also represent the often tragic personal stories of the despair and suffering of those imprisoned within their walls.

We can only imagine the emotional turmoil of the condemned as the massive bolt was drawn on the door knowing they were taking their last steps. Approaching the door they would also have been aware of the sounds of the massive crowd, often up to 50,000 Londoners who had come to witness their death.

Find out more in our mini documentary on prison doors.