Keep Onesiphorus in Northleach

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!

Make a donation

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.

Christmas Breakout at the Old Prison!

On Sunday the 2nd of December the Friends of the Cotswolds will be holding an exciting fundraiser for the Northleach old prison, the Christmas Breakout! 

Chris Hancock in jail

Come and see Chris Hancock locked up for 24 hours in one of the prison’s ancient cells to raise money for the Prison. Donate now at or pick up a sponsor form at the Old Prison.

Nominate your friends and family to be locked up themselves (for 10 minutes !), experience fascinating rural crafting, hear the amazing Chedworth Silver band or sing carols around our Christmas tree, which was kindly donated by Lord Vestey.

In addition to this enjoy our festive food and drink, with all money raised going to the Northleach Old Prison Rescue. Put it in your calendars, doors open at 2pm and close at 4 on Sunday the 2nd of December.

Get Into Jail Free!

Following the exciting and long-awaited news that local charity the Friends of the Cotswolds are the preferred bidder by Cotswold District Council to take ownership of the Old Prison building and site at Northleach, an open event to “show the potential” is being organised for local residents and supporters on Sunday 12 August.

The event, which will take place between 1.30pm and 4pm, will provide a unique opportunity to view parts of the site not normally open to the general public such as the Old Police Station.  As well as being able to enjoy a full guided tour of the site, including the original female cell block, the courtroom, the Rural Life Collection, the Escape to the Cotswolds discovery centre, plus other exhibits including the Gloucestershire Geology Trust Roadshow.

Visitors on the day will also have the opportunity to hear from representatives from the Friends of the Cotswolds, Northleach with Eastington Town Council and the Cotswolds Conservation Board on their proposed vision for the future of the site. Guests will be welcome to make suggestions and are especially  asked to bring any memories and anecdotes about the Old Prison site before it closed in the 1970s.

Chairman of the Friends of the Cotswolds, Simon Randall is keen to demonstrate their commitment to conserving the heritage of the building for the future: “During the past year, we have been immensely encouraged by the amount of support we have received from local people and visitors in our bid to save this wonderful site for the future enjoyment of many people.  We are now looking forward to meeting many of them next month as we share our future plans and listen to their ideas and hear about their memories of the Old Prison site. I’m sure it will be a very interesting day all round”

The event will start at 1.30pm and finish at 4pm on Sunday 12 August.  For further details, contact the Cotswolds Conservation Board on 01451 862000.