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The Clink Prison Museum

1 Clink Street, London, United Kingdom
Landmark & Historical Place

Description

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Attraction, Museum The Clink Prison Museum is built upon the original site of the Clink Prison. The Prison dates back to 1144 making it one of England’s oldest, if not the oldest prison. Visitors will experience a hands on educational experience allowing them to handle original artefacts, including torture devices, as well as the opportunity to view and hear the amazing stories of the inmates and the notorious Southbank.

Owned by the Bishop of Winchester, The Clink Prison was used to control the Southbank of London known as “The Liberty of The Clink”. This area housed much of London’s entertainment establishments including four theatres, bull-baiting, bear-baiting, inns and many other darker entertainments.

The Clink Prison was only a small part of a vast complex on the Bankside that the Bishop owned called Winchester House. At one point in history Henry VIII planned toake control of the palace and use it as his own. Parts of the Great Hall still stand even today including the world famous Rose Arch Window preserved by English Heritage.

Visitors to the area included individuals such as William Shakespeare, King Henry VIII, Sir Francis Drake, Geoffrey Chaucer and many more.

Why not explore the prison that gave its name to all others? The clink Prison.


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#Onthisday in 1675 The laying of the foundation stone of the new St Paul's Cathedral in London. The cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and the site faced that of the church destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

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Did you know #onthisday in 1829, Robert Peel established the Metropolitan police force of London, who controlled crime everywhere except The City. These new 'bobbies' and 'Peelers', named after Robert himself, were an example of a modern police force that would be followed for generations to come. Such a police force would have helped throw even more people in the Clink if it had been established earlier!

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#Onthisday in 1583 The first Life Insurance policy was sold in London, and when a claim was eventually made, it was disputed. The policy was taken out on the life of William Gybbon, a salter (he preserved meat and fish). Apparently the policy was a one-year term, and Gybbon died just before the year was up. True to present form, the underwriters initially refused to pay up on the grounds that the contract was for a lunar year. The courts however ruled in favour of Martin.

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#Onthisday 1825 The foundation stone of the New London Bridge was laid by ‘the grand old’ Duke of York. It now spans an artificial lake in Arizona. London Bridge is a bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It was built in the 1830s and formerly spanned the River Thames in London, England. It was dismantled in 1967 and relocated to Arizona. The Arizona bridge is a reinforced concrete structure clad in the original masonry of the 1830s bridge, which was purchased by Robert P. McCulloch from the City of London. McCulloch had exterior granite blocks from the original bridge numbered and transported to America to construct the present bridge in Lake Havasu City, a planned community he established in 1964 on the shore of Lake Havasu. The bridge was completed in 1971 (along with a canal), and links an island in the Colorado River with the main part of Lake Havasu City.

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Did you know, #onthisday in 1673, the future King James II was forced to resign as Lord High Admiral because of his Catholic faith? James was not always Catholic; his time spent in France on military campaigns exposed him to the faith and he proceeded to convert in 1668. Religious tension was paramount at the time in England however, and this would lead to his temporary downfall.

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The Romans built a 'suburb' south of the River Thames on the site of modern Southwark. However it was abandoned in the 5th century when the Romans left Britain. Yet under the Saxons a new 'suburb' grew up and flourished. It was called the south work and became known as Southwark. (From the 16th century it was also called The Borough). In the Anglo-Saxon era Southwark was an important if rather small settlement. Unfortunately William the Conqueror burned Southwark in 1066. Nevertheless in the Middle Ages the suburb of Southwark thrived. By the 12th century it had a church and from 1276 it also had a market where farmers from the countryside sold their produce. Today Borough Market is still trading. In the 12th century part of Southwark was granted to the Bishop of Winchester. From the 12th century the Bishop of Winchester owned a prison in Southwark. From the 15th century it was called the Clink. It finally closed in 1780. In the 16th and 17th centuries Southwark continued to thrive. The London councillors were puritans who disapproved of plays so theatres were built in Southwark. The Rose Theatre was built in 1592 and the Globe was built in 1599. Southwark was also known for bull baiting and bear baiting. (picture: old London Bridge 1599)

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Just metres away from the Clink Prison Museum lies 'The Anchor' pub. The Anchor has gained historical notoriety as 'little the alehouse on Bankside' from which Samuel Pepys witnessed the Great Fire of London. The Anchor was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London, and is said to be Bankside's oldest surviving tavern. It is interesting to note that while the local area has changed, and institutions such as the original Clink Prison no longer exist in their original form. some of it has stayed exactly the same.

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Medieval London was a maze of twisting streets and lanes. Most of the houses were half-timbered, or wattle and daub, whitewashed with lime. The threat of fire was constant, and laws were passed to make sure that all householders had fire-fighting equipment on hand. A 13th century law required new houses to use slate for roofing rather than the more risky straw, but this seems to have been ignored. Many of the streets in the city were named after the particular trade which practiced there. For example, Threadneedle Street was the tailor's district, Bread Street had bakeries, and on Milk Street cows were kept for milking. There was also a very active livestock market at Smithfield.

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We are pleased to inform you that the Clink is back open. Opening hours today are 10-6 with last admission at 5:30. Once again, our thoughts go out to those affected by the events of Saturday evening.

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Due to the sad events that occured in the London Bridge area on Saturday evening, the Clink Prison Museum is currently closed. We will post an update when we are accepting visitors again. Our thoughts go out to all those affected by the attacks.

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John Howard was one of the first to push for reform in England's brutal prisons. He was made High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1773 and was so shocked by the state of the local prison. He would later visit many more prisons in the country and take the issue to parliament. This led to two 1774 acts of parliament - one abolished jailers' fees (which were effectively their salary) while the other introduced reforms designed to improve the health of prisoners.

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Contrary to popular belief, medieval English people bathed quite regularly in public baths designed for that purpose. This was due to the belief that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Public baths were eventually opposed by the Protestants in the 16th century because of prostitution being common there.

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Quiz

NEAR The Clink Prison Museum

Rileys

London, United Kingdom
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