For most of us, the prison is an unfamiliar institution and life 'inside' is beyond our experience. However, more than 60,000 people now live in our gaols, some serving their sentences in buildings with Victorian or more ancient origins, others in prisons dating from the last twenty years. 'English Prisons: An Architectural History' is the result of the first systematic written and photographic survey of prisons since the early 20th century. It traces the history of the purpose-built prison and its development over the past 200 years. Over 130 establishments that make up the current prison estate and over 100 former sites that have surviving buildings or extensive documentation have been investigated, institutions ranging from medieval castles and military camps to country houses that have been taken over and adapted for penal use. The Prison Service granted the project team unprecedented access to all its establishments, allowing the compilation of an archive of more than 5,000 images ad 250 research files. The team was allowed to go anywhere, to photograph almost anything (except where this could compromise security) and to speak to any inmate. A selection of the images from the archive illustrates this book.