Hanged at Maidstone

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Maidstone Prison was one of the largest, most ambitious, and expensive building projects of the early nineteenth century. Executions were conducted here from 1831, when 14-year-old John Any Bird Bell was publicly hanged outside the prison - one of the youngest people to be executed in England. Others who ended up on its gallows included Robert Burton, whose ambition was to be hanged; Francis Kidder, the last woman to be publicly hanged in Britain; Thomas Wells, the first person in Britain to be hanged inside a prison following the passage of the Capital Punishment (Amendment) Act in May 1868; and George Joseph Smith, infamously known as the Brides in the Bath murderer, who protested his innocence to the last.


Paul Begg is a professional historian, lecturer, and author. He has written countless articles, and has appeared on television and radio documentaries as an historical consultant. He lives in Maidstone, Kent.