Richmond’s Bridewell

The following is an excerpt taken from Richmond History authored by Archivist Patricia A. Millar:

THERE ARE GAOLS AND THERE ARE GOALS and the Richmond Historical
Society has both of them! Well, at least part of a gaol, and a very definite goal.
Housed in the Society’s Bell School Museum is part of the structure which was
known as Richmond’s Bridewell or gaol (pronounced jal), better known as the Wyoming Jail.


Goal is an early English spelling of jail. According to DRIFTWAYS INTO THE
PAST*, The name Bridewell originally belonged to a well dedicated to Saint Bride
between Fleet Street and the Thames River in London, England. In 1522 Henry VIII
built a palace on this site for the accommodation on the Emperor Charles V which
became the residence of Cardinal Wolsey. Under Edward V, in 1553, it was converted
into a workhouse for the poor and a house of correction for the idle and vicious. From
this originated the term Bridewell for a house of correction or a gaol or a jail. Mill
workers coming to Richmond from England apparently brought some of the familiar
terminology with them. The Wyoming Bridewell was the old Wyoming Jail (Richmond
Historical Society Newsletter, Vol. I , No. 4, June, 1968). Indeed it was the Richmond
Jail because it served the whole town.
Reportedly located somewhere behind what is now the Wood River Inn, or the
2n d . Cents resale shop, this Wyoming Jail served the whole town of Richmond and was
probably a holding facility for folks needing a night to “cool o f f after revelry in the Dawley Tavern (now the beautifully restored Stagecoach House), or awaiting the arrival
of a circuit judge for trial at the Town Hall.

*Dawley Tavern was located directly across the road from the jail!