The origins of ‘the Clink’


On London’s South Bank is a narrow, medieval thoroughfare known as Clink Street, boasting a wealth of attractions for the visitor. First there are the remains of Winchester Palace, owned by the Bishop of Winchester back in the 9th century.

Nearby, if you look up, you will see hanging from a building a gibbet containing what appears to be the remains of a body. Presumably these are not real remains. This marks the site of The Clink prison, which operated between 1106 and 1780 and became so notorious that its name became synonymous with prisons across the country.

For 500 years The Clink was used to house criminals – including, legend has it, many prostitutes from the Bishop’s own licenced brothels in the area – but in the 1600s it was largely used to house enemies of the authorities. At the time, with the country under Catholic rule, most of these prisoners were Protestant dissenters. Later it became a prison for Royalists during the English Civil War. The prison was finally destroyed in the Gordon Riots of 1780 but a museum now operates on the site.

Find out more about The Clink on our London South Bank tour. Click here for more information

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