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Welcome to Prison

Ottobre 2009
Per chi ha lo stomaco forte e per gli appassionati dell’horror: the Clink, il carcere medievale in cui sono state fedelmente ricostruite le condizioni dei detenuti...

di John Rigg

File audio:

The Clink Prison Museum
The Clink Prison Museum

Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe (Standard British accent)

This month we experience life in one of London’s most notorious prisons: the Clink, located in the South Bank district, was a medieval prison infamous for its horrific torture machines.


Where is the Clink? The nearest underground station is London Bridge: this is on the Jubilee and Northern lines. Visitors emerge from the underground station to see the London Dungeon attraction across the road. Ignore the long queues outside the London Dungeon, and walk west to Montague Close. Go past Southwark Cathedral and the recreation of the 16th century ship, the Golden Hind, and take the narrow back passage named Clink Street. On the left, there is the entrance to the Clink prison. Go through the door and take the dark stairs down to the cells below. A terrible cry comes from above visitors’ heads as they descend the stairs: it’s a man imprisoned in a metal cage!


Was the Clink really a terrible place? Today visitors can walk through the candle-lit cells and examine the torture devices which once terrorised prisoners. There’s the whipping post, where prisoners were chained and whipped. Then there’s the torture chair and the thief catcher – a mysterious long metal stick with three hooks. There’s a chastity belt and a horrific “boot,” or foot crusher. Prisoners were forced to put on this boot, which was then filled with water or oil and pieces of wood. The prison keeper then heated the boot and…


The Clink was used from the 12th until the 18th century. It was part of Winchester Palace, the home of the powerful Bishop of Winchester. The district, now called Southwark, was famous for its brothels and prostitutes in medieval times. In fact  the prison was one of the first to hold women prisoners. Visitors to the Clink can learn the many terrible stories of these times.


After this traumatic experience, it’s time to relax. Vinopolis is just a minute’s walk away. It offers wine tours with wines from all over the world. Afterwards you can visit another medieval attraction: the recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. It offers guided tours and the chance to see Shakespeare’s plays in an open-air medieval theatre.


The Clink 1 Clink Street, London SE1 9DG. Admission prices: Adult £5, Children £3.50 www.clink.co.uk
Vinopolis 1 Bank End, London, SE1 9BU Tel: +44 (0)20 79408320 www.vinopolis.co.uk
Shakespeare’s Globe 21 New Globe Walk London, SE1 9DT Tel: +44 (0)20 7902 5970 www.shakespeares-globe.org

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Dungeon - lett. prigione sotterranea (London Dungeon è una famosa attrazione turistica).

narrow back passage - stretto passaggio sul retro.

cage - gabbia.

candle-lit cells - celle illuminate con le candele.

devices - strumenti.

whipping post - postazione delle frustate.

chained - incatenati.

the thief catcher - l’acchiappa-ladri.

hooks - ganci.

belt - cintura.

foot crusher - stritola-piedi.

brothels - bordelli.