Historic Cotswold Prison to Reopen with Relish

Pictured: Robert Goves, Director Relish

Prison food is about to get the Relish touch as experts from the award winning catering company take over The Old Prison at Northleach.

The team are set to reopen the venue as a café. The historic venue closed over a year ago. Since then its owners, Friends of the Cotswolds, have been looking for a new operator.

The Old Prison, formerly Northleach House of Correction, was built by Sir George Onesiphorus Paul, High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, as part of a pioneering movement of prison reform. Paul was also responsible for the building of a new county gaol in Gloucester and four other houses of correction at Lawford’s Gate, Bristol, Littledean and Horsley. The House of Correction at Northleach was built in 1792 to the designs of William Blackburn. After the death of Paul in 1820, conditions worsened and hard labour was introduced to the prison. The buildings were extended in the early 19 Century with a new female cell block being built in 1844. In 1857 the status of the prison changed to a house of remand and in 1859 the local Petty Sessional Court moved onto the site. The earlier mill house, with a treadmill for hard labour, was converted into a police station. By the 1930s the main cell blocks were out of use and were demolished in 1936-7, along with other buildings. The site ceased to be used by the police and court services in the 1970s.

The remaining buildings contain cells with barred windows as well as a distinctive court room with fitted dock and bench which will still be on view to the public when it reopens in early October.

The glass roof café area will now be transformed into a luscious green dining area, decorated with plants and shrubbery. It will be made comfy with cosy sofas and dining furniture that will look out onto the grassy courtyard and stables where the Lloyd Baker Rural Life collection of agricultural equipment is on display.

Relish have already been responsible for transforming other venues across the region as well as working with other business and venue owners to create great hospitality spaces including Arkells Brewery, the Cotswolds Distillery, the Corinium Museum in Cirencester, The Royal Agricultural University and at this year’s Glastonbury Festival ran a 200 cover restaurant alongside Jasmine Hemsley.

Director and chef Rob Goves is promising an enticing brunch & lunch menu featuring some of the best ingredients the region has to offer. “We work with some awesome local suppliers whose incredible seasonal produce will do this stunning venue justice, no pun intended. Bramleys for great local veggies, Four Seasons butchers in Cirencester, Sherston free range eggs and local Cotswold Honey,” he said.

“We are already planning the menu and will have dishes like Homemade Cotswold Honey Granola, Local Fruit, Cotswolds Diary Yoghurt, Wiltshire Ham & Hereford Hop Sourdough Toasties, and Special ‘Prison Meals’ which will change regularly with the seasons.

Relish and The Old Prison director Philippa Sawyer added: “It is a really exciting project and an incredible space that can be used for private parties, including weddings but is also ideal for coach tours and large groups. The cells and court room will remain open so people can take a look at the buildings past.”

For more information please contact Relish Event Catering on 01285 658444 or email: info@relishmail.co.uk.