The Clink Prison Museum, London

The Clink Prison Museum, 1 Clink Street, London Bridge, Bankside SE1 9DG

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Following the ‘prisoners this way’ sign, descend the steps into darkness with eery music playing and ring the bell to get the jailer’s attention…

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Box Office at the Clink Prison Museum

The Clink Prison Museum currently charges £7.50 admission fee, per adult, but this may change so check the website for up to date prices. History guides are available to purchase for £2.

Opening times:

  • 10am-9pm July-September every day
  • 10am-6pm October-June Monday-Friday
  • 10am-7:30pm October-June Saturday and Sunday

The Clink Prison was one of the earliest prisons in England. It was owned by the Bishop of Winchester and established in 1144. However, it was burnt down during the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots in 1780.

Inside the prison it is dimly lit, with sounds of distressed prisoners calling out and crying. Apparently the prison used to flood at high tide causing the prisoners to have to wade in waist deep raw sewage with rats. Disease was rife.

Wander around the different sections of The Clink Prison Museum at your own pace. Each area provides fascinating, factual information about the exhibits, prison, prisoners and the local area, some of which is gruesome! You can also see the remains of the clink prison wall which dates 1550-1650.

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Remains of the Clink Prison Wall

The Torture Area

Torture devices are displayed such as the ‘scold’s bridle’. Nagging, gossiping women would be marched through town wearing a ‘scold’s bridle’ which had a plate to hold down her tongue. Some had an additional spike so if she tried to speak, her tongue would be torn. Alternatively, they were dunked into an open sewer from a ‘ducking stool’. This was located outside the nearby pub now known as The Anchor.

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A scolds bridle

Artefacts such as the boot, collar, ball and chain and chastity belt are laid out for you to handle. Once the foot was placed in the boot, the gap was filled with wood. Water was then poured on it, causing the wood to swell and cause unbearable pain, possibly crippling the prisoner.

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Fake evidence against poor Ellen Butler forced her to be imprisoned at The Clink – nobody really knows what happened to her.

Ellen Butler, prisoner, the clink prison museum, London Bridge, clink street, London, London museum
Ellen Butler

Towards the exit, are a couple of fun activities. Firstly, you can have a photo taken behind bars. This an optional activity and is included in the admission fee. A ticket with a code is printed off so you can download the photograph. There is also the opportunity to discover your medieval name. Apparently, mine is Lady Ariana Tudor!

This was a great museum to come to. It is small so no need to allow more than an hour here. Why not combine it with another solo activity or restaurant I have reviewed in London?

Suggested Further Reading:

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Things to do in London – solo activities that I have enjoyed