Newgate Prison was one of the most infamous prisons in all of London’s history. Located on the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey, the prison was built in 1188 and was in operations until 1902. The prison was torn down permanently in 1904, and the current Central Criminal Court building was constructed in 1907.
Death and horror have long stained this prison. Fire struck the prison twice. First, in 1666, The Great Fire of London destroyed it, but it was rebuilt in 1672 and extended into new buildings at the south side of the street. The second time, in 1780, during the Gordon Riots, people burned the prison and many prisoners perished. In 1783, the gallows were moved from Tyburn prison to Newgate. Large crowds came to watch prisoners swing from the rack. The last prisoner to be hung publically was Michael Barrett in 1868. Executioners were actually trained at Newgate Prison and placed in other prisons to carry out capital punishments.
There are many terrifying stories on what went on behind Newgate’s stone walls, but one that sticks out was about the manifestation of a hellhound that still today appears on the former building site. Prisoners were not always treated with kindness and had little to no rights during the prison’s 700 years of operation. In one of the cells, prisoners were starving and had nothing to eat for days. They were desperate. A doctor was thrown into the cell. After the guards left, the prisoners attacked him, killed him and ate him. This devious deed conjured the hellhound, and it has appeared on Newgate’s site ever since.
Legend has it that when something horrifying and inhuman occurred, hellhounds would materialize. Newgate’s hellhound was reported to have black fur, glowing red eyes and snarling teeth. Once summoned, the hellhound would remain forever. Furthermore, if a person stared into the beast’s eyes three times, he or she would die.
So, if you ever visit the Central Criminal Court building or walk down Newgate Street in London, and a large black dog appears with red glowing eyes, don’t look at him. Run the other way. Live to tell about it.