BAN KHUN PHAEN / OLD PRISON
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - April 2013
Ban Khun Phaen is located within the Ayutthaya Historical Park between Vihan Phra
Mongkhon Bophit and Wat Ket, in the immediate vicinity of the Elephant Show and
Ride and
Wat Khae.

The Thai styled house is located in the location of the old prison of the Ayutthayan Era.
The old prison stood in a marshy area being part of
Bueng Chikan and was linked to
Khlong Tho by Khlong Nakhon Ban.  Talaeng Kaeng Street was situated south of the
location. On this road was a fresh market called the
Market in Front of the Jail. [1]

The main entrance to the Khun Phaen House is from Sri Sanphet Rd, but the site can be
also reached from Vihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit by walking through the market area or
via the bridge near the Elephant Show and Ride.

The Thai compound is of course dating from the post-Ayutthayan period and was built
in 1894 near
Wat Saphan Kluea on Ko Loi. The teak house was once the residence of
Krom Phra Pongsiropat, a former governor of Monthon Ayutthaya.

In 1939, the house was moved to the old prison area by Pridi Banomyong and other
Thai structures were built in situ. The compound was called "Khun Phaen House" after
the famous character of the epic poem "Khun Chang Khun Phaen" (1). Khun Phaen
was believed to have been imprisoned in this location. [2]

Not only the character out of the Siamese Literature, but also the French Bishop of
Metellopolis and Apostolic Vicar of Siam, Louis Laneau, his missionaries and half of the
students of the seminary were incarcerated here after the death of King Narai in 1688;
and the chaotic withdrawal of the French from Siam. The French were held in prison
until August 1690, about 2 years.

Le lendemain, ils firent conduire les séminaristes, les écoliers et les domestiques
au
Lakhonban. C'est une prison formée par une enceinte de gros pieux, sans
couvert, remplie de boue, d'insectes et de puanteur, ou l'on est exposé à toutes les
rigueurs des saisons et surtout aux pluies qui inondent chaque année le royaume.
Là, ils partagèrent les souffrances des Français qui n'étaient pas partis avec M.
Desfarges. On n'eut aucun égard ni à l'âge des écoliers, dont plusieurs étaient
encore enfants, ni à la dignité des missionnaires. On leur fit souffrir la faim, la
soif, la nudité, les cangues, les ceps, les menottes et des coups de rotin, sans nulle
compassion. Il n’y en eut pas un seul qui ne portât des marques sanglantes de la
cruauté avec laquelle leurs gardiens les traitaient.
[3]

The wooden house was renovated in 1957 in the period
Bueng Phra Ram was restored
and turned into a park during the time of Field Marshal Phibunsongkhram. [4] The
house was given under the responsibility of the Fine Arts Department and has been used
before as an FAD office.

Footnotes:

(1) The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen - Siam’s Great Folk Epic of Love and War -
Translated and edited by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit (2010).

References:

[1] Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and
Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya - Chris Baker - Journal of the Siam
Society, Vol. 99, 2011 - page 62.
[2] Master Plan for Tourism Development of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya and the
Neighbouring Provinces - Tourism Authority of Thailand - 6 August 1988 -  page 4-37.
[3] Description du Royaume Thai ou Siam - Vol 2 - de Pallegoix - Page 184.
[4] Discovering Ayutthaya - Charnvit Kasetsiri & Michael Wright (2007) - Toyota
Thailand Foundation - page 55.
Ban Khun Phaen
Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno 1926
(Ban Khun Phaen)
(Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno
1926)