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'Doing Time' at The Willis Museum

A thought-provoking exhibition at Willis Museum, Market Place, is shedding light on life behind bars at Winchester Prison.

Doing Time, supported by Hampshire Cultural Trust. tells the stories of the people who live and work at the county prison and includes the prison’s 175 years of history through fascinating artefacts.

Prison life is revealed by staff including Governor James Bourke who shares the challenges of supporting prisoners with complex social, mental and physical needs.

The impact of what often can be life-changing education and training, healthcare and counselling is told in the words of prisoners who have turned their lives around at HMP Winchester.

The exhibition and an accompanying book were written by Liz Kavanagh and Leonie Moutney who spent over six months visiting the prison before, after and during the pandemic when prisoners were almost permanently locked in cells.

Photography by award-winning Winchester photographer Javaid Akhtar reveals the stark reality of prison life.

Liz Kavanagh comments: “Each year, 2000 men pass through Winchester Prison, on remand, awaiting release and serving sentences.

“The Doing Time exhibition and book provides an overview of the many individuals who make up the prison – from teachers and prison officers to the prisoners themselves. Their stories have been written as they have been told - without agenda.

“They reveal the huge challenges that the prison faces operationally as well as the dedication of the people who work there. They also highlight the pitfalls of a criminal justice system where reoffending is far too common. The stories told by prisoners are particularly insightful, revealing how debt, drug addiction and lack of family support can all lead to crime.”

Deborah Neubauer, Director of Community and Impact at Hampshire Cultural Trust says: “Doing Time has provided real insight into what life is like behind the walls in one of Winchester’s most prominent landmarks. The stories that have been shared are both challenging and inspirational.”

The book Doing Time is available to buy for £10 from P & G Wells.

The Doing Time exhibition is at Willis Museum, Basingstoke until 17 December.

Schools and community groups interested in booking the exhibition and a talk should contact Leonie Mountney


For media enquiries please contact

Liz Kavanagh |01962 881422