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Uncovering the Dark History of Dartmoor Prison: A Year 9 Adventure

As part of Year 9’s Crime and Punishment topic, we went to visit the Dartmoor Prison Museum in Princetown. Located yards from the iconic Dartmoor Prison itself, the museum is based in the old prison farm dairy where the prisoners used to work, and the milk was sent to the local Ambrosia factory. 

It tells the story of over 200 years of prison history from its opening in 1809, taking in French prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars, followed by American prisoners from the War of 1812. The prison re-opened as a convict prison in 1850 and hosted conscientious objectors during the First World War. Still in use today it is currently Britain’s oldest operational prison. 

The students enjoyed looking at the displays in the museum, especially the weapons, homemade tattooing guns and mobile phones that had been smuggled into the prison. We also had a tour around the outside of the main prison hearing stories of escapes and riots and visited the site of the mass graves for the French and American prisoners of war.