Berkshire

Reading Gaol: Oscar Wilde prison put up for sale

Oscar Wilde (1881) and his cell at Reading Prison Image copyright Getty Images/Morley von Sternberg
Image caption The prison was immortalised by Oscar Wilde's poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol, written during his two-year sentence for gross indecency

The jail where playwright Oscar Wilde was a prisoner has been put up for sale, the Ministry of Justice has said.

The MoJ, which owns the Grade II listed jail building in Reading, announced in April it intended to sell the site.

Reading East MP Matt Rodda previously expressed concern over the prison being converted into luxury flats and started a petition to preserve the site.

The MoJ said it would be considering "conditional and unconditional bids from all parties".

A spokesman said: "We will always seek the best outcome for the taxpayer and the money received from the sale will be invested back into our prisons."

Wilde, spent two years at the jail for gross indecency between 1895 and 1897 after after his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas was exposed.

After his release, he composed The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which was inspired by his time as a prisoner and reflected the brutality of the Victorian prison system.

Campaigners had previously called for the jail to be preserved as a piece of the country's "precious heritage" and turned into a theatre and arts centre to reflect its significance for LGBT people.

The jail has been derelict since 2013 and costs the government more than £250,000 a year to maintain.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Campaigners had previously called for the jail to be turned into a theatre and arts centre

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