04/09/2013 12:26 BST | Updated 04/09/2013 12:31 BST

Reading Jail, Prison Of Oscar Wilde, Among Four To Be Shut Down

The prison where Oscar Wilde was inspired to pen 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' is set to close as the government announced the end of four historic jails in England and Wales.

Wilde served two years in Reading prison after being convicted of indecency in 1895 for homosexual offences. He wrote the poem upon his release whilst in exile in France, detailing the hanging of fellow inmate Charles Thomas Wooldridge, a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards, who was executed for the murder of his wife.

American actor Stacy Keach also served time in Reading for carrying cocaine through Heathrow airport.

Dorchester, Northallerton and Blundeston jail will also be closed under the government’s new plans to make way for a 2000-inmate 'super prison'.


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Whilst Dorchester and Northallerton prison share a long history dating back as far as 1878 and 1785 respectively, it is perhaps Blundeston's relatively young walls that have seen the most notable prisoners.

Built in the 1960s, Blundeston saw the likes of Harry Maurice Roberts, the English career criminal responsible for the 'Shepherd's Bush murders' in 1966 and one of the UK's longest-serving prisoners.

Reggie Kray also served over 30-years in Blundeston. Kray, along with his brother Ronnie, was a member of the gang 'The Firm' in the 50s and 60s, until the twins were convicted for the murder of Jack "The Hat" McVite and George Cornell.

John Stonehouse, a former Labour MP, was convicted of fraud, theft, conspiracy and for causing a false police investigation after faking his own death in 1974. More than 20-years later it was revealed he was an agent for communist Czechoslovak Socialist Republic military intelligence.

Richard Reid, known as the 'Shoe Bomber', was imprisoned in Blundeston for lesser charges in the 90s, but is now serving a life sentence in the US for carrying explosives on a flight from Paris to Miami.

Michael Carroll, the self-proclaimed 'King of Chavs' and lottery winner, was imprisoned for two years under drug offences between 2002 and 2006.

Discussions have also emerged to shutdown Dartmoor prison which opened in 1809 to house prisoners of the Napoleonic wars.

The historic sites are all listed buildings and are likely to be turned into luxury accommodations.