The Closing of The Clink (18th century)

The Clink is known as the "most notorious medieval prison"; is also one of the oldest and was in use from 1144 to 1780. The conditions for prisoners here were absolutely horrendous, and most were there because they had debts they couldn't pay. But the prison was originally for heretics. They were all often subject to grueling torture and rooms that regularly flooded, causing bodies to rot from not being able to dry. The clink had two distinct sections, one for men and the other for women. The only way for prisoners to get relief from the torture is if they were lucky enough to have someone on the outside to give money as a bribe to the jailors. These bribes could also bring them more comfortable amenities and food during their stay. Usage of this prison decreased as the years passed, but it was always a loathed place for many. Then in 1780, The Clink was broken into during the Gordon Riots, which were led by Anti-Catholic Protestant Lord Geroge Gordon. That night the rioters freed all prisoners that were still in The Clink before setting the whole thing ablaze. The Click was not ever rebuilt or used again after those riots, and many, if not all, escaped prisoners were not captured again. Today there is a Clink museum in the same spot in Southwark where the prison was originally, but all that still stands from the original is one brick wall.   

The Clink Museum. The Rich and Gory History of the Clink Prison.

The British Library. Map of the Gordon Riots. 

Ian Haywood. The Gordon Riots of 1780: London in Flames, a Nation in ruins. Grahamn College. March 11, 2013


Associated Place(s)

Event date:

circa. The start of the month Summer 1780 to circa. The start of the month Summer 1780

Parent Chronology: