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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 April, 2004, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Hangman's noose on the move
by Eric Simpson
BBC News Online, Nottingham

hangman's nose
The display contains a hood, a noose and a bottle of whiskey
A chilling reminder of the work of England's executioners has moved to a new city.

A hangman's box, complete with noose, hood and a bottle of whiskey, is on display at Nottingham's Galleries of Justice.

The box is part of a collection from the HM Prison Museum in Rugby that is moving to Nottingham.

The collection includes the door from Reading Prison where Oscar Wilde was held.

"The last executions in England were held in 1964 in Strangeways Prison and Liverpool - and we want to give people a chance to look at both the historical and social aspects," Galleries of Justice librarian Bev Baker told BBC News Online.

Husband poisoned

"There is a huge collection of prison uniforms and even a whipping post."

Articles in the hangman's box also include handcuffs and ankle straps, a coil of rope, and the handle that flipped the trap door.

The box was based at Wandsworth Prison and was transferred to each execution via train.

hangman's hood
Most executioners had their own full-time job and being an executioner was a sideline
Bev Baker, Galleries of Justice

The exhibit also tells the story of executioner Albert Pierrepont from Bradford in Yorkshire, who died in 1992, who is said to have hanged 450 people without a single mishap.

Assisted by Syd Derney, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, he executed convict James Inglis in only seven seconds on the 8 May 1951 at Strangeways Prison in Manchester.

"Most executioners had their own full-time job and being an executioner was a sideline.

"They would get a letter from the governor asking them to do an execution - they would have lots of warning," Ms Baker said.

The assistant executioner strapped the condemned prisoner's ankles and wrists and got him onto the trap door, while the executioner put on the hood, put the noose around his neck and pulled the lever.

A bottle of whiskey was kept in the box in case the condemned prisoner needed a drink to steady his nerves before the execution.

Two women featured in the exhibit were both hanged in 1936 and left five children each behind, she said.

hangman's box
Whiskey bottle

Nurse Dorthea Waddington of Nottingham was accused of deliberately administering an overdose of morphine to a woman in her care at a nursing home in Sherwood.

Nurse Waddingham's defence was that the morphine tablets had been prescribed by the doctor, but the jury did not believe her testimony and she was found guilty.

She was hanged at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, on 16 April 1936 despite a recommendation of mercy from the jury.

Charlotte Bryant, a 33-year-old from Coombe, Dorset, poisoned her husband with arsenic and was also hanged in 1936.

During a search of the family home, the police found traces of an arsenic-based weed killer in a tin and on one of Charlotte's coats.

She was tried at Dorchester Assizes in May and found guilty of wilful murder by poisoning, and later hanged at Exeter Prison.

The executioner's tale
24 Sep 02  |  Europe
Hangman dropped for drinking
24 Feb 01  |  UK News
Terrible building 'repays its debt'
17 May 03  |  Nottinghamshire


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