Onesiphorus – “Onesi” to his friends – has been sponsored by local charity Friends of the Cotswolds and is one of the many hares on this year’s hare trail, running throughout the district.
His aim is to raise funds for the restoration of the Old Prison. He is due to be auctioned on 6th October at Cheltenham Racecourse with all the other hares. But, with a bit of crowd funding, we hope to keep him for the town and help raise money to finance the refurbishment of the prison at the same time. Just £1 from every resident would see us well on the way to reaching our target!
Keeping Onesi in Northleach is a project by district councillor Chris Hancock, who will attend the auction to place the bid with the funds raised. All monies raised by the appeal will be donated to Friends of the Cotswolds, via the auction if his bid is successful or given directly if he is not.
How will the funds be used? The immediate need is to refurbish the outer circle of the site, where the farm carts and implements are stored. This involves replacing rotten timber, protecting and repairing stonework to the external wall and repainting the timbers and fencing. The cost is expected to be £15,000. Over £6,000 has already been raised, but we hope that if Northleach can bid successfully to keep Onesiphorus we will raise another £2,500 towards that target. He can then be seen in Northleach for the rest of his natural life and help promote our town, our special buildings and our events.
So how did Onesi get his name? His namesake Onesiphorus Paul was a key social reformer in the 18th century. He worked to significantly improve conditions for inmates with the aim of avoiding reoffending. His building-designs, of which this is one of the first and few that survive, went on to be the models for prisons all over the world. Hence, the building is of national and international importance and Grade 2* listed. It is now owned by the Friends of the Cotswolds, the charity which, together with the town, successfully campaigned to ensure that it remained a public building.