Executions were still held in public in the Victorian period. A source of entertainment for many people, they often attracted thousands of spectators. The travel agency Thomas Cook even ran excursion trains to public hangings, treating them as tourist attractions. 

In 1849, Charles Dickens, along with 30 thousand other spectators, watched the hanging of the Mannings, a notorious pair of murderers, and was appalled by what he saw. This is a letter he sent to The Times in 1849, in which he argued that public executions were inhumane. In the letter, he vividly describes the execution and the actions of the crowds who had gathered to watch. It was another 20 years before hangings would be conducted within prison walls.