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Prison key from St German's

Date made: 16th century, 17th century, 18th century

Description: Metal key from St German's Cathedral Prison. This metal key came from the ecclesiastical or church prison, which was located in the crypt under the old St German’s Cathedral in Peel Castle. The ecclesiastical prison was used to hold people who had broken church laws. This might include not attending church, gambling, swearing or playing sports on the Sabbath (Sunday) or not paying tithes (church taxes). The prison was in use from at least the 15th century until 1780. One of the most famous people to be held in the prison was Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester. She was convicted of witchcraft in 1441 when she consulted astrologers who had predicted the King’s possible death.

The key has had a varied life since it was last used to lock up prisoners in 1780. It even ended up in Cleveland, Ohio for a time. The key was safely returned to the Island when Mrs Stage (a member of the Kerruish family living in Cleveland) brought it back during the 1928 Manx Homecoming visit for Tynwald Day.

Measurements: overall: 15.5 x 5 x 2 cm

Materials: metal: iron

Object name: key

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1954-2650


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