In the Clink



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This Way to Gaol rIf you have ever fancied “doing time” without the inconvenient preliminary of being charged, tried and sentenced, not to mention the dreary business of actually committing a crime, now is your chance. For a mere £7.50, you can spend a few hours inside a genuine prison, albeit historic and no longer in use. The Clink, on Clink Street (not far from London Bridge) is one of the capital’s oldest places of correction. The inside experience begins the moment the barred entry gate cuts you off from the outside world.

From there, it is but a short hop to the dungeons, where the mementos and event reconstructions of about seven centuries (1100s-1700s) of torture, abound. As you follow the prison trail in subdued lighting, emaciated faces stare from behind bars, grasping hands reach out and ragged clothes hang overhead – the only airing facility – all to a chorus of sobbing, beseeching voices. Wax work tableaux and highlighted wallboards along the way tell tales of incarcerations, torturing and hanging. Many of the inmates were “real” criminals, robbers and murderers, but people whose only misfortune was to be in debt or who had to steal food just to survive  or who had the wrong religious beliefs during the 1500s, were also incarcerated.

The fate of the imprisoned subjects was truly horrible; miscreants were locked in tiny cells without light, heat or sanitation. They received nothing to eat; the turnkeys were in place simply to keep them in. The relatives of well-to-do prisoners brought in food; the poor had to beg or steal – or starve and die. In fact, feeding the hungry might be a matter of survival since desperately-undernourished prisoners often succumbed to the waves of infection that routinely swept the prison – typhus or cholera, take your pick – taking even the well-fed with them.  One enterprising inmate, dubbed the “Ratman”, bred a certain rodent for his own delectation and yes, you could buy a specimen for a price. A rather too-well constructed tableau and wallboards, tell his story. The tale of the Gunpowder Plot is also told.Prisoner FMPQFE

It is open daily from 10.00 – 21.00 hours (10.00 – 18.00 in winter and 19.30 at weekends).

Being inside the Clink prison is a moving experience – do try to go there.

Editor, 2017

http://www.clink.co.uk/index.html

 

About Mary Phelan

I am an art historian, magazine editor and design philosopher. In addition to editing Artyonline, I have my own website, http://www.maryphelan.info/ and write a blog, Design Victim, on the pain and pleasure of encountering designed objects in modern life. http://maryphelan.blogspot.com/ Readers can also follow my latest Hub Pages article that provides directions on how to create Ray Lichtenstein-type images using computer drawing software. http://hubpages.com/hub/Draw-Like-Lichtenstein-Using-Computer-Graphic-Software