Glasshouse (British Army)

A glasshouse, or the glasshouse is a military prison in the United Kingdom.[1]


The first military prisons were established in 1844. The term Glasshouse originated from the Aldershot military prison, Aldershot, which had a glazed roof. Over time, the word glasshouse came to be applied to all military prisons. Aldershot military prison, which was also called the Detention Barracks, had begun as several barracks in 1856, before being replaced by a single, large building, modelled on the then civilian prison system in 1870.[2] This building was destroyed by fire in a riot of 1946 when the prisoners (labeled as 'mutineers' in the press) were protesting about their rations and conditions given that the Second World War was over.[3]

Glasshouses gained a reputation for brutality,[4] as depicted in Allan Campbell McLean's novel The Glass House and the Sean Connery film The Hill.[5] Today, the British Army has only one remaining correction facility, the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) at Colchester. Whilst the MCTC is not a prison, it is inspected by the Justice Inspectorate and any serviceperson convicted of a crime that warrants a prison sentence, will be sent to the MCTC for processing, before being sent to a civilian prison.[6]

The MCTC at Colchester was featured in a Channel 4 documentary in 1994 (The Glasshouse) which prompted an early day motion in the House of Commons over the inmates having access to ammunition and weapons (as part of normal military drill.) This was because the government at the time, were seeking to use the MCTC as a model for youth custody in civilian prisons.[7]

ITV Anglia also produced a TV-documentary series, The Real Red Caps, (2003).[8]

List of GlasshousesEdit


  1. ^ "The Glasshouse | 21 Air Defence Battery". 21 Air Defence Battery. 6 September 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Historic Farnborough – Memories – The Glasshouse – potted history". Retrieved 13 April 2017.[dead link]
  3. ^ "Aldershot "Glass-House" burnt out shell as mutineers surrender". The Advocate. 26 February 1946. p. 1. ISSN 1321-0823.
  4. ^ Emsley, Clive (2013). Soldier, sailor, beggarman, thief : crime and the British Armed Services since 1914 (1 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-19-965371-3.
  5. ^ Crowther, Bosley (4 October 1965). "Movie Review - - THE HILL -". Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  6. ^ "The Military Corrective Training Centre" (PDF). HM Chief Inspector of Prisons. March 2015. pp. 5–8. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Early day motion 140 – GLASSHOUSE PROGRAMME ON MILITARY CORRECTIVE CENTRE". UK Parliament. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  8. ^ "The Real Redcaps Episode Guide". Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  9. ^ "glasshouse". Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  10. ^ "British Military History". Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Northallerton Prison's bleak exterior belies its rich history". Darlington and Stockton Times. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  12. ^ Shute, Joe (28 March 2013). "Shepton Mallet Prison: 'If these walls could speak...'". Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  13. ^ Kotecha, Sima (28 August 2013). "A rare glimpse inside the UK's only 'military prison'". BBC News. Retrieved 13 April 2017.

External linksEdit