Images of Lincolnshire prisoners from an album sold by Batemans for £4600.

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The prison for minor offenders (now reduced to just the Grand Entrance, however) is run as a holiday home by the Landmark Trust.

The more than 600 elderly and young men and women, as well as children, pictured in a photo album offered at Stamford saleroom Batemans (24% buyer’s premium) on December 2 did not have a choice - they were the inmates.

Dating from 1870, the mugshots provided ‘a photographic likeness of each prisoner as required under the Habitual Criminals Act, a copy of which is forwarded to the Registrar, seven days previous to being discharged’. Some of the photos were duplicates or possible repeat offenders.

Those featured were guilty of minor offences such as petty theft, disorderly conduct or that once serious offence of idleness.


Images of Lincolnshire prisoners from an album sold by Batemans for £4600.

The prison at Folkingham was built on the site of a large castle. The village had a house of correction by 1611. That was replaced in 1808 by a new one intended to serve the whole of the local county of Kesteven, enlarged in 1825 and given that grand new entrance. In 1878 the prison was closed and the inner buildings converted into 10 houses, all demolished in 1955.

Estimated at £300-500, the album did rather better, selling at £4600.

Greg Bateman, the auction house’s managing director, said: “The photo album was entered by a private vendor who inherited it from their father, who had worked locally in the prison service. We understand that the father had ‘saved’ this album after it had been thrown away. It was purchased by a London-based institution bidding via a proxy.

“There were a decent amount of watchers pre-auction, certainly enough that we knew something exciting would happen - our own hopes were for perhaps a couple of thousand tops. And it was at £1300 (with pre-bids) when the auctioneer opened the lot. The bidding was busy enough by several different parties up to about £1500, then two main bidders took over, up to £4600, taking about three and a half minutes to sell.”


Images of Lincolnshire prisoners from an album sold by Batemans for £4600.

Police custody pics

In October last year a police ledger dated to 1890-1920 sold for £10,500 by Hansons, more than triple its top estimate. It featured original mugshots and criminal records relating to 500 people held in police custody (see ATG No 2566).