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In Britain, at least, the slang words "in clink" are commonly used for meaning that someone is "in jail" and here, near the south end of London's Southwark Bridge, lies the origin of the term.

"The Clink" was a notorious prison in Southwark, England which functioned from the 12th century until 1780 either deriving its name from, or bestowing it on, the local manor, the Clink Liberty. The manor and prison were owned by the Bishop of Winchester and situated next to his residence at Winchester Palace. The Clink was possibly the oldest men's prison and probably also the oldest women's prison in England.

The origins of the name "The Clink" are uncertain, but it is possibly onomatopoeic and derives from the sound of striking metal as the prison's doors were bolted, or the rattling of the chains the prisoners wore.

There has been a prison owned by the Bishop of Winchester in one form or another since the year 860, although at that time it would only have been one cell in a priests' college. By 1076 an archbishop had listed the types of punishment allowed, scourging with rods, solitary confinement and bread and water in silence.

The prisoners were ill treated although those with money and friends on the outside were able to pay the gaolers to make their time better. As the gaolers were very poorly paid, they found other ways to supplement their income. They hired out rooms, beds, bedding, candles and fuel to those who could afford it. Food and drink were charged at twice the outside price. They accepted payments for fitting lighter irons and for removing them completely. For a fee, prisoners would be allowed outside to beg or even to work. Madams were allowed to keep a brothel going, with payments going to the gaolers. Poorer prisoners had to beg at the grates that led up to street level and sell anything they had with them, including their clothes, to pay for food.

Winchester House was raided by rioters protesting the Statute of Labourers in 1450. Classing clerics as tax collectors, they murdered them and released prisoners from the Clink before burning it down. The rebellion was put down and Winchester House was rebuilt and extended, including a new prison. Eventually it was burned down by rioters in 1760 and never rebuilt.

Most of the above note I edited from words gleaned from Wikipedia but now on this site is the Clink Museum which is open to visitors and about which you can read here.

Yet another photograph I took during a couple of days of aimless wandering though the streets of London last year.

Here is a larger version of this photograph on "beta" TE.

snunney, jhm, macjake, Royaldevon, CLODO, delpeoples, jean113 has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1985 W: 427 N: 7659] (30513)
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