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Clink Prison was an infamous jail on Bankside which dated all the way back to the 12th-century. It was notorious in medieval times for its cruel practices.
It remained a working prison right up until the Gordon Riots of 1780, when it was burned to the ground during a violent riot by angry and rampaging Londoners.
Trouble began when Lord George Gordon led a procession to Parliament to protest about Lord North’s relaxation of the anti-Catholic laws. The crowd became increasingly boisterous and started looting Catholic chapels, which encouraged every lowlife in London to descend on Westminster to rape, burn and pillage the town.
Anarchy reigned in London for a whole week, during which time the Clink Prison was burned to the ground and the Bank of England was held up with muskets.
By the time the Government had restored some kind of order 285 people had been killed and murdered, and 25 more were hanged. Gordon himself was arrested and acquitted of high treason, as he never planned the terrible event.
This review originally appeared in his London blog
The Clink Prison Museum is like a poor man’s London Dungeon. It’s alright if you have seven quid burning a hole in your pocket, I suppose, but I was in and out of the place in thirty minutes because it’s so small. So don’t go expecting it to fill up an afternoon, because it won’t.
There’s nothing to see of the original Clink Prison anymore. There’s nothing historical in it. And it’s not really done up to look like a prison either. It’s all dark and gloomy and has a strange smell about the place… but I think that was deliberate. You walk around about ten gloomy rooms reading all the boards about famous crimes and criminals, and what dreadful punishments awaited the wretched once they were kicked through the door. You can also hear some banging and clanking and screams and shrieks of the prisoners over the speakers.
They’ve got a decent collection of torture equipment on display, and lots of wax models of the prisoners looking suitably sad in manacles and chains. You can even stoop down and rest your head on the chopping block if you want, and have your photo taken sitting in an electric chair. I would quite liked to have strung up some of the noisy young tourists in a gibbet, and taken a photo of them, but no, you can’t do that anymore because of the dumb EU health and safety rules.
Here’s my advice: visit the London Dungeon instead.
> Read Craig’s latest review of the Clink Prison Museum “The Clink was a proper prison. The kind of prison that actually punished you. These days the prisoners get a bedroom with a TV and a Playstation inside, but back then all they got was typhoid. Not that I’ve ever been to a prison, of course – although I have stayed in the Covent Garden Travelodge, which isn’t very far off. There’s hardly anything left of the original prison anymore. All that remains of the medieval gaol is a solitary wall which survived the fire of 1780. You’re not walking around anything historic. The Clink Prison Museum more like a mini-version of the London Dungeon. It starts off with a few gloomy monks chanting at the dungeon door, then you walk around a few gloomy rooms… continued.”
> Read Craig’s review of the London Dungeon “I hate the London Dungeon. I actually hate it, in the same way that cats hate dogs. I know that is a very strong word to use about something that is supposed to be fun, but there you go – that is the truth. The scariest thing about the Dungeons, to me, is the thought of having to visit it. I went there a couple of years ago and the best bit was walking out the exit. So when they announced that they were going to move it from London Bridge and rebuild it at the County Hall, I knew that meant I was going to have to visit it again. Aaargh! As you’re queuing up for the show to begin you can hear a soundtrack of moans and groans and blood curdling screams coming from deep inside the building. They are not actors… continued.”
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If you enjoy scary attractions then try the London Dungeon and Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds. You’ll find some more torture equipment at the Tower of London and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Or how about a Jack the Ripper Tour in Whitechapel? Or a scary Ghost Bus Tour ? You might like to read Craig’s review of a Hampton Court Palace Ghost Tour as well.
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