Dorset

HMP Dorchester homes: Permission granted to exhume bodies

Dorchester Prison Image copyright Google
Image caption It is believed Martha Brown, the last woman to be publicly hanged in Dorset, is buried at the site

Permission has been granted to exhume bodies buried at a former prison ahead of plans to build 200 homes at the site.

The Bishop of Salisbury has given developer City and Country consent to remove bodies buried on consecrated land at HMP Dorchester.

It is thought the last woman to be hanged in Dorset is buried at the site.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes previously led calls for all bodies at the site to be exhumed.

Image caption Archives show some of the Victorian prisoners incarcerated at Dorchester

City and Country has the go-ahead to build on the site but admitted in August a "lack of resources" had led to a delay.

It must now apply for an exhumation licence from the Secretary of State before any bodies can be removed.

However, the developer has not yet said how many bodies it plans to remove from the former prison, which closed in 2013.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Dorset resident Julian Fellowes has previously led calls for all bodies at the site to be exhumed

It is believed Martha Brown, the last woman to be hanged in Dorset, is among former inmates buried at the site.

Her execution was witnessed by the author Thomas Hardy and was said to have inspired his novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Salisbury previously said any recovered bodies would be given "a proper Christian reinternment" at Poundbury Cemetery.

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