The Old Prison set to enjoy a secure future under new ownership

The future of a significant heritage site and Grade II* listed building in Northleach has been secured thanks to the efforts of local environmental charity, Friends of the Cotswolds, the Cotswolds Conservation Board and the local community.

The Old Prison at Northleach, formally owned by Cotswold District Council, is now under the ownership of the Friends of the Cotswolds following the completion of the purchase of the site yesterday. Plans to fully realise the site as a vibrant visitor centre and historic asset for the local community can now be developed, including the appointment of a new house manager, the reinstatement of the cafe and the submission of an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Chairman of the Friends of the Cotswolds, Simon Randall, is overjoyed at being able to move ahead with plans: “During the last eighteen months we have been immensely pleased with the amount of support received from the local community through our fundraising activities and events at the Old Prison. This is a fascinating building and unique piece of local heritage in its own right which many people feel strongly about and want to conserve for the future. Thanks to their support along with that of Northleach with Eastington Town Council, we can now move quickly forward with the Conservation Board to realise these exciting plans for the future of the site.
Our fundraising efforts will continue in earnest to improve facilities and we will be seeking more volunteers to help with various activities at the site

The 18th century building houses the Escape to the Cotswolds visitor centre and the unique Rural Life Collection. As well as conserving and improving access to, and interpretation of, the Old Prison and the Rural Life Collection, plans for the site will enable the development of a central hub for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Through volunteer-led, hands-on activities and demonstrations, interactive interpretation and a wide range of events and activities, the project will help to deepen understanding and appreciation of the significance of this special place. The centre will also become a focus for rural skills training, building on the Board's well established rural skills programme, and will seek to be a showcase for sustainable energy conservation and production within an historic building.

A new programme of events and activities at the Escape to the Cotswolds centre this summer has attracted many more visitors and families through the doors since the start of the season in April. Historic tours, themed talks, guided walks, geology roadshows, fossil-making activities and many other events have proven very popular with local people, schools and visitors from across the country this year so far, with many more events planned for the rest of the year and into the future.

For further information of all events taking place, go to:


Notes to editors:

  • The Friends of the Cotswolds is a charity started in 2007 whose purpose is to conserve and enhance the Cotswolds whilst raising awareness of our natural environment and provide activities and facilities for visitors and people living and working in the Cotswolds. Visit:
  • The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape.
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members - 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit: For details of the 15 National Parks in England and Wales visit: