One of the Peterborough area’s claims to fame (although one it might not be too proud of) is that it was home at Norman Cross to the world’s first purpose-built prisoner-of-war camp.
It is the subject of a new book by historian Paul Chamberlain which includes a foreward by Flag Fen’s Dr Francis Pryor MBE (archeologist, broadcaster and Time Team consultant).
The camp was constructed during the Napoleonic Wars, opening in 1797. It was more than just a prison: it was a town in itself with houses, offices, butchers, bakers, a hospital, a school, a market and a banking system. It was an important prison and military establishment in the east of England with a community of some 7,000 French inmates.
Women and children were also kept in the camp and also several other nationalities.
In the period before it closed in 1814, 1,770 prisoners of war died at Norman Cross.
The men who died were buried at Norman Cross and the cemetery was uncovered by Time Team in 2009.
Alongside a comprehensive examination of the prison itself, this detailed and informative book, compiled by a leading expert on the Napoleonic era, explores what life was like for inmates and turnkeys alike – the clothing, food, health, education, punishment and, ultimately, the closure of the depot in 1814.
All today’s pictures are taken from the book, except the one of Time Team presenter Tony Robinson.
The Napoleonic Prison of Norman Cross: The Lost Town Of Huntingdonshire’, by Paul Chamberlain is published by The History Press and is on sale now.