Did you know that three men once escaped from the County Gaol in Dorchester?

The fascinating new edition of the Dorset Year Book fills us in on this daring feat, courtesy of a piece by Jack W. Sweet.

William Ridout, 25, George Moore, 19, and Thomas Francis, 35, shared a cell in 1829 and hatched a plan to escape.

Sweet writes: "Working on the brickwork over the cell door they broke through at about two o'clock on Monday morning 6 July and carrying a rope cut from their blankets crossed the yard, scaled the prison wall and disappeared into the night."

The Dorset County Chronicle reported six months later that the prisoners cut up their bedding and made it into a ladder to climb the wall.

Sweet writes that the escape was soon discovered and wanted posters offering a reward of five pounds each for their recapture were distributed. At about midnight the three had made it as far as Parkstone and were captured and returned to Dorchester Gaol.

On July 14 Ridout and Francis were found guilty of their crimes at the Quarter Sessions and sentenced to 12 months' hard labour in Dorchester Gaol. Moore appeared at the Dorset Assizes on August 6, was found guilty and sentenced to seven years penal servitude in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). He was taken on the convict ship Sir Charles Forbes arriving there four months later on July 27.

The Dorset Year Book 2018 is priced at £8 is available from Books Afloat in Park Street, Weymouth and Dorchester TIC.