Criminal Quilts online exhibition

Exhibition tour

Start with the film, then read the introduction  below. Each object in the exhibition has an intro text panel and then one or more images of the work.

What are these photographs? These women were photographed before release from Stafford Prison between 1877 and 1916.
The photograph albums are now preserved in Staffordshire Record Office. There are similar photographs in many police and prison archives.

Why do they have their hands on their chests? It was a legal requirement to show hands in identification photos during the 1880s and early 1890s. Missing or injured fingers could be useful identification.

What crimes did they commit?  Most of these women were petty criminals, convicted of theft, drunkenness and minor assault, usually as a result of poverty and desperation. There are no murderers or scandalous cases and all were released from prison. Transportation had ended by this time.

Where did they come from? Most of the women held in Stafford Prison came from Staffordshire, the Black Country and Birmingham.

Find out more in the exhibition history display book here

Read case studies of individuals here

If you have enjoyed this exhibition, please consider sending me a small donation. Please also visit the gift shop as you leave. I have books, postcards and greetings cards available to post. Many of the works are also for sale from the exhibition so please do ask for a price list. Original works start from £100.





Repeat Offender

Now in the collection of  Brampton Museum

Collaboration Quilt

This collaborative quilt info sheets explains each of the squares.

Volunteers Quilt


Spinster, Wife, Widow


In a private collection

Collaboration Quilt 2

Prison Apron

Digital Designs

Miniature Quilts

Shire Hall Commission