ONE of Somerset's most unique and historic tourist attractions will close its doors for good in the new year.

Shepton Mallet Prison has been decommissioned since 2013, allowing tourists and visitors a look inside since 2017.

It has now been announced that the 400-year-old prison will shut down 'forever' on January 2 2024.

 Joel Campbell, CEO of Cove Group which has managed the prison since 2017, explained that their efforts to secure the prison's future were met with a lack of support from the prison’s owners City & Country.

"Over the past seven years we have invested over £1 million into Shepton Mallet Prison, and despite a relentless campaign of perseverance, our endeavours to safeguard and enhance this historical site have been met with a disheartening lack of support from City & Country," he said.

“Our efforts to secure a future for the prison through direct purchase were not just undervalued but met with resistance and unreasonable financial demands, especially concerning property insurance costs that far exceed the market rate.

"Despite our continued efforts to negotiate and find alternative insurance arrangements, City & Country have informed us that if we do not meet their demands then notice will be served imminently."

18 jobs will be lost as a result of the closure.

Site Manager, Charlie Lawson, said: “Our success has been a testament to the resilience, creativity, and unwavering spirit of our brilliant team.

"It has been a privilege to protect and enhance such an important part of the region’s heritage.

"The closure is a blow not just to us, but to the entire community that embraced us."

Staff at the prison were 'extremely saddened' to announce the closure.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Shepton Mallet Prison said: "We are deeply saddened to share that Shepton Mallet Prison is scheduled to close on 2nd January 2024.

"This heartbreaking decision comes after years of dedication to preserving this historic site.

"The closure will impact our dedicated team and the entire community who have embraced us.

"There are just a few weeks left to visit Shepton Mallet Prison before its doors close forever."