Is Buckingham unique? Can you name another town that, following a devastating fire, built a Gaol at its heart?
I must admit that I can’t. After its 1725 disaster, Buckingham had to fight to retain its County Assizes. The town’s blackened, down-at-heel appearance impressed neither visiting judges nor lawyers from London, and the parlous state of its lock-up brought shame upon Buckingham, as this piece from a 1743 edition of the Ipswich Journal shows: “Last Thursday, the Assizes ended at Buckingham, when seven prisoners were tried, two of whom were capitally convicted. The noted Sansbury was one of them who was the most audacious highwayman that was ever known in those Parts.
“At his Trial there was so great a Mob of Deer-stealers, & etc that the Proceedings were stopt [!] for some time, as it was supposed they came with an Intent to rescue him.