Take a walk along the bank of the River Thames between Southwark Cathedral and the Globe Theatre and you may stumble across a narrow, dark and cobbled street with a very sinister past.
This street is best known for the location of one of London’s oldest and most notorious medieval prisons. The prison is of course The Clink, from which the street takes its name.
There has been a prison of some form or another at the site of The Clink since 860. The Bishop of Winchester had ownership of the land and the penitentiary began as just one cell in a priest’s college. The construction of The Clink began in 1107 and was finished at some point between 1144 and 1149. It consisted of two prisons, one for men and another for women.
The Clink was the most notorious prison of its time. A frightening place inhabited by some of the worst criminals in the southern part of England.
‘In the Clink’ or ‘In Clink’ is a phrase known throughout the English-speaking world meaning ‘to be locked up in prison’. To many people it conjures up a grim overbearing prison, probably with overtones of stories we have heard about places like Newgate Prison.
The origins of the name ‘The Clink’ are uncertain, but it is possibly derives from the sound of striking metal as the prison doors were bolted, or maybe the rattling of the chains the prisoners had to wear. The name has become slang as a generic term for prison or a gaol cell.
Dating back to 1144, The Clink had a long and miserable history, with links to the Gunpowder Plot and many other major historical events. Heretics, debtors and murderers were all incarcerated at The Clink in appalling conditions.
The prisoners were ill-treated although those with money and friends on the outside were able to pay the gaolers to make their time better. As the gaolers were very poorly paid, they found other ways to supplement their income.
The Clink was known for its grizzly torture and interrogation methods.
Over the years many people have reported hearing the noise of breaking glass and the rattling of chains around the area where the prison stood.
People have also mentioned shadows and a gloomy and dreadful feeling, when passing the ruins. Where the museum now sits, has had many reports of paranormal activity and ghostly sightings. And has become one of our most popular and intense locations.
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