1812 – 1946 : The prison and military period (1)
The installation in the castle of one of the nine "Prisons of detention" wanted by Napoleon 1st makes of Gaillon one of the most important french complex Prison.
On January 3rd, 1812, a
Prison of detention
is created by imperial Decree in the castle of Gaillon. It opens only on November 4th, 1816 because considerable works of reconstruction, restoration and of arrangement of buildings were necessary. They will continue until 1824. If the new buildings have none of the artistic qualities of the precedents, they have however the merit to respect the plans of the XVIIIth century and especially to integrate -thus to save- what stayed of several architectural remarkable elements (entrance Pavilion, "galerie sur le val", low Chapel, Tower of the Siren, Estouteville Tower…).
Planned at first to receive 500 prisoners of both sexes, came from the departments of Eure, Somme, Seine-maritime, Orne and Eure-et-Loir, it sees its staff rising until 1200 and will have welcomed, in its closure, approximately 50.000 condemned persons.
An Entrepreneur General chosen by the State is in charge of organizing the work of the prisoners : The prison becomes a real factory. Workshops settle down in all the buildings: shoe repair store, locksmithery, hosiery, manufacturing of brushes, optical instruments, artificial flowers, accordions, chairs…
At night the prisoners are grouped in dormitories. If there are prisons for the punishments, the castle does not allow the installation of individual cells like that becomes the rule at the end of the XIXth century.
When it closes its doors on July 1st, 1901, the Prison is at the heart of a real prison complex which makes many "Gaillonnais" live : All the historic spaces of the former residence of the Archbishops of Rouen are occupied and specialized appendices were fitted out beyond…
The entrance of the Prison
The arches of the "Galerie sur le Val" are walled up
The Gallery isa dining hall
The yardholy Charles
1880 Plan of the Prisonat the most of its extension