178 years is the length of time that the Kingston Penn has been open. Wow, that’s a great many life time sentences and more. It is closing today as reported by all news agencies and it caught my attention for we have a family connection to the “belly of the beast” as it is named.
My grandfather, Senior Major Arthur Edward Waters was the chaplain at Kingston Penn for ten years. After World War II ended he was appointed to Kingston with responsibility to minister to the souls of that horrible place. I remember my Dad telling me his father witnessed two hangings as chaplain and vowed to witness no more being physically sick after both experiences.
I can’t imagine the other things he must have witnessed between 1945 and 1955 but the list must have some length to it. And of course I must believe that he also had numerous opportunities to minister to those imprisoned. In 178 years only two men successfully escaped the Kingston Penn which gives evidence to the kind of atmosphere that would have permeated the place on hearing the clang of the doors and locks.
At the end of it’s life it may be that we’ll hear a few of the stories of those who have lived part of their lives there. I would also like to hear of the few who worked to make life better for those who were there.