Klink Prison Museum in London

The sad history of the famous Clink Prison in Southwark, located on Clink Street, begins in 1129, when Henry, cousin of King Stephen of Blois of England, became Archbishop of Winchester.

Having gained power and become second in power to the monarch, the violent bishop set up two separate prisons in Winchester Palace, his residence on the Thames, for women and men, which in those days was extremely lucrative.

The church authorities had a large income from fines levied on guilty maidens or overly promiscuous clients.

Prisoners were turned into debtors for their long years of imprisonment, because they were obliged to pay for their confinement.

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The jailers also squeezed everything they could out of them, even exaggerating the cost of food by two or three times, plus cruel and unfair treatment. Henry’s arbitrariness and lawlessness earned him the nickname “Liberty of The Clink” – one click of the prison lock and you were already in the dungeon.

The bishop even created in 1076 a list of punishments applied to prisoners (solitary confinement, beatings, sitting on water and bread).

Only the cellars of the burnt-out building are left, and today they house a museum that recreates, as faithfully as possible, the realistic conditions of a medieval prison, the atmosphere of the cells, and the instruments of punishment.
The wax figures of the prisoners fit perfectly into this atmosphere, recordings of silent moans add to the slightly eerie impression of what we have seen.

The name “Klink” was finally assigned to the prisons located near the City of London and the Red Quarter in the 14th century. For almost six hundred years, drunkards, debauchees, debtors, harlots, petty thieves, heretics and other dissimilar people were taken to the prison for any, even minor, offenses

Political criminals (Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger, who rebelled against the tyrant Queen Mary the Bloody, the literary man John Rogers, who translated the Bible into English from Latin, the Royalists and Puritans, who later founded the American colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts) were also imprisoned here.

Many times Clink prison was tried to be demolished, but eventually it was renovated and rebuilt.
It was not until 1780 that Protestant Lord George Gordon, in protest against the privileges granted to Catholics at the end of the American War of Independence, suggested that members of the Protestant Association force the hated prison.

All prisoners were released and the prison burned to the ground, after which it was never rebuilt.

Only the cellars of the burnt-out building are left, and today they house a museum that recreates, as faithfully as possible, the realistic conditions of a medieval prison, the atmosphere of the cells, and the instruments of punishment.
The wax figures of the prisoners fit perfectly into this atmosphere, recordings of silent moans add to the slightly eerie impression of what we have seen.

The exposition of the Klink Prison Museum introduces visitors to its history and the system of confinement. The exhibits (“torture chair”, “loyalty belt”, “ball with shackles”, “Spanish boot”, “set of tools for torture”, “scaffold”) illustrate all the horrors of the poor people’s nightmarish life.

A visit to the Klink Prison Museum is not the most ordinary walk, and of course you should consider whether it is worth it to take your children along.

Unfortunately, the museum is not accessible to people with disabilities.

London, SE1 9DG, 1 Clink Street, The Clink Prison Museum can be reached by tube to London bridge or Borough, Monument stations.

Opening times

The museum is open from 10:00 to 18:00 on weekdays from October to June and from 10:00 to 19:30 at weekends. In July and September visiting is possible every day from 10:00 to 21:00. During Christmas time the museum is closed.

Ticket price

Entrance: 8 GBP. Website: www.clink.co.uk.

Prices on the page are for November 2019.

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