The Clink Museum combines history and the macabre in equal measure. It is is on the site of the original Clink Prison ("possibly the oldest mens prison and probably the oldest womens prison in England") which held prisoners from the early Tudor years until 1780. The exhibits here focus on punishments from medieval times through to the 18th century, and include hands-on encounters with instruments of torture and restraining devices such as stocks.
One particularly unpleasant object that caused much squirming when we visited was the iron boot. The prisoner’s foot would be inserted, the space around it filled with pieces of wood, and water poured in to swell the wood, with the result that circulation to the foot would be cut off and eventually the foot would be lost.
There are also, as you can see from my photos, various tableaux showing prisoners from different periods of history. This isn’t a museum for the squeamish, but could well be a good way of persuading youngsters to take on board some history without even realising they were doing so!
The museum is open every day 10.00 AM – 9.00 PM in the summer ((July - September), and
Monday - Friday 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM, Weekends 10.00 AM - 7.30 PM the rest of the year. Admission costs £7.50 for adults, £5.50 for children under 16, senior citizens and students with I.D. A family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) is available for £18.00.
Update March 2013: prices and opening hours checked and updated
Clink Prison was the oldest prison in London and nowadays the Clink Prison Museum stands on the original site of 1144, just across Southwark Bridge on the south side of the Thames. The Clink Prison was owned by the Bishop of Winchester to control the undesirables involved bear-baiting, bull-baiting, gambling halls, bowling halls , brothels, drunkards and those involved in more sinister entertainment. The prison was just a small part of the bishop's palace but he clink was a notorious medieval prison and today the museum exhibits torture equipment, and has displays of criminal events that took place in the area.
Good place to take your children (but you cannot leave them there!!!)
open from 10 am daily
admission £7.50 adults, £5.50 children
The Clink has long been used as a term for prison.
The Clink Museum shows just how awful the experience was for prisoners incarcerated there. Because it is a private museum, an admission fee is charged. The area is still rather foreboding, being narrow and gloomy.
For £5 entry for adults, this museum treats the visitor to a wealth of historical data relating to the various prisons which were found in Southwark from the 13th century - 17th century.
The punishments and general treatment of prisoners who were incarcerated in these stinking hell holes defies description. Treatment of women was particularly heinous. I heard American tourists muttering "sadists" under their breath, and to be honest, what you see and read here is quite frankly almost too horrific to be believed. Why they were so unnecessarily cruel to their fellow human beings for the most minor misdemeanours is unfathomable.
There are various re-constructed iron instruments of torture that the visitor can pick up, or try on... and thank god they live today in our post-modern, tolerant and charitable society.
The Clink Prison Museum is situated in the cellars underneath the Bishop of Winchester's Palace.
Coming here it dawns on you why "the clink" is another term for prison in England. Here in Clink Street there actually WAS a prison once, and this is what the Clink Prison Museum tells you more about. In fact, Southwark had lots of prisons as it was quite a special district. London's first proper suburb and on the "other" side of the river, it was the site for lots of brothels and other sinful things such as theatres (like the Rose and the Globe).
The Clink Prison Museum is on the site of the original Clink Prison, possibly the oldest men's prison and probably the oldest womens prison in England, which held prisoners from the early Tudor years until 1780. Its said that William Shakespeare visited an old schoolfriend here.
The Clink Prison Museum.
The oldest prison in England for men and women. The conditions were appalling and the prisoners were treated brutally.
The museum is small. It takes about 1 hour to complete. Interesting factual information, but not enough.
Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat & Sun, 10am-9pm
Children (under16) £3.50
Senior Citizens (over 60) £3.50
Student (need I.D.) £3.50
(2 adults, 2 children)
This prison is so famous, that its name has even entered English slang. If you say someone "has been thrown in the clink", it means they have been put in prison. The expression came about due to the notorioty of this particular prison.
The Clink first opened her doors in the 12th century. It was originally owned by Bishops who had the power to detain people.
Inside there are stories of several inmates who ranged from prostitutes to priests. There are also displays of torture instruments that would have been used at the time!
For prices etc please check the attached web site that is more likely to stay up to date than anything I put here!
Forget the London Dungeon, the Clink is the real thing. Just down the block from the Bishop of Winchester's palace ruins the Clink was Southwark's prison for several centuries. The exhibits are well done without being over the top - very interesting and well worth the reasonable admission charge.
The term 'in clink' meaning to be in prison originated from this prison. It was used from the 12th century until 1780.
It is now a kind of London Dungeon type attraction but on a smaller scale, showing what life was like for prisoners there (not very pleasant). Worth visiting if you are in the area and like this type of thing.