Horror Museums

The Clink Prison Museum: UK’s Oldest And Scariest Prison?

London is a city with a rich and fascinating history but also a dark and gruesome. From medieval times to the Victorian era, London witnessed countless crimes, punishments, tortures, and executions that would make anyone shiver. Suppose you are a fan of horror attractions and want to experience the chilling reality of London’s past. In that case, you can find many attractions – Some we already review here, including London Dungeon, The London Bridge Experience, and more. 

The Clink Prison Museum may be less famous than such attractions, but it has some interesting history and an educational and entertaining way to learn about it. So is it a hidden gem for horror fans, or a place you can skip while visiting the capital of England?

The History Of The Clink Prison Museum

The Clink Prison Museum is on the original site of one of England’s oldest and most notorious prisons. The Clink Prison dates back to 1144, when the Bishop of Winchester was right next to Winchester Palace, the residence of the Bishop. He built it to hold his unruly tenants, men, and women alike. This is the oldest men’s prison in the UK, probably the oldest women’s prison, and one of the most famous London has to offer.

The Clink Prison housed a multitude of sinners throughout its existence, including debtors, heretics, drunkards, harlots, and later religious adversaries. The prison was notorious for its harsh conditions, brutal tortures, and frequent executions. The prison was named after the sound of the metal chains and locks that secured the prisoners. Some of the famous inmates of The Clink Prison were John Bradford, a Protestant preacher who was burned at the stake in 1555; John Gerard, a Jesuit priest who escaped from the prison in 1597; and John Lilburne, a political activist who was whipped and pilloried in 1638.

Over the years, there have been more than one attempt to destroy the prison, like the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381 or Jack Cade’s rebellion in the 15th century. After such attempts, the prison had to be rebuilt. At one point, they rebuilt the Clink, while after the second attempt, they built a two-story jail for men, where today you see The Clink Prison Museum.

The Clink Prison was destroyed by a mob during the Gordon Riots in 1780 and remained in ruins until it was turned into a museum in 1971. We can say the prison was never rebuilt after the riots, and nearly 200 years after – they built a small bet impressive museum right next to its old location.

The Museum Today

The Clink Prison Museum is far from big, and visiting here shouldn’t take much of your precious time in London. However, it offers a hands-on educational experience that presents the scandalous truth of Old Bankside through interactive exhibits, archaeological artifacts, and audio-visual displays. 

You can explore the prison cells, handle torture devices, hear the inmates’ tales of torment and misfortune, and touch some of the museum’s items. 

You can also learn about the history of crime and punishment in London, from medieval times to the 19th century.

The Clink Prison Museum
The Clink Prison Museum Entrance. Photo: Sir James. CC BY-SA 3.0

The Clink Prison Museum Ghost Hunt

Like many other historical scary places in London and in general, The Clink Prison has its ghost stories. The location’s rich history of suffering, punishment, and death has contributed to its reputation as one of the UK’s most haunted places.

Here are a few notable tales associated with The Clink Prison Museum:

  1. The Ghost of Jack Sheppard: Jack Sheppard was a notorious 18th-century thief imprisoned in The Clink before escaping multiple times. Legend has it that his spirit still lingers within the prison, occasionally appearing to visitors as a shadowy figure or causing unexplained disturbances.
  2. The Lady in Black: One of the most well-known apparitions at The Clink is the ghost of a lady dressed in black. She is believed to be the spirit of a former prisoner or a victim of the harsh conditions within the prison. Witnesses have reported seeing her wandering the corridors or standing ominously in the cells.
  3. The Phantom Priest: Visitors have reported encounters with a ghostly figure resembling a priest or monk. This specter is said to manifest in the prison chapel or near the site of the former gallows, perhaps indicating a connection to the numerous executions that took place there.
  4. Unexplained Sounds and Cold Spots: Many visitors to The Clink have experienced strange phenomena such as disembodied voices, footsteps, and unexplained knocks. Additionally, sudden temperature drops, known as “cold spots,” are often felt in certain areas, leading to a chilling and unsettling atmosphere.

At the Clink Prison Museum, ghost hunt tours are arranged by the biggest ghost-hunting company Great Britain has to offer. In this case, you will go through the prison we all the equipment needed, as you probably learned in dozens of horror movies: Ouija boars, Glass Divinations, and more. We have yet to hear a lot of tours where the visitors met some spirit later, but it is a cool experience anyway. You can find more information about such tours here.


The Clink Prison Museum – General Information

The Clink Prison Museum Opening Hours

The Clink Prison Museum is open all year round, seven days a week, from 10:00 to 18:00 (or 19:30 on weekends), excluding Christmas Day. The last admission is 30 minutes before closing. 

Who Can Visit The Museum?

The museum is suitable for all ages, but some exhibits may be disturbing for young children or sensitive visitors. The museum also offers guided tours, school visits, group bookings, and special events.

The Clink Prison Museum Ticket Information

The ticket prices for today are very reasonable, especially when you compare them to other London scary attractions. As of 2023, The prices are as follows:

  • Adults: £8.00
  • Children (under 16): £6.00
  • Concession (students, OAP, disabled): £6.00
  • Family (2 adults & 2 children under 16): £23.00

You can also get The Clink Prison History Guide Book for £2.20. This colorful book, with illustrations in different languages (English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian), may help you understand the story of this place further and may be a great memory of your visit here.

Buy Ticket (Official Website)

Buy 2for1 Ticket (Valid Monday-Wednesday)

In addition to the option to buy a ticket for the museum, online or at the spot itself, you can find a ticket with different activities, including an entry ticket to the museum. 

Where Is The Museum Located?

The museum is located at 1 Clink Street, London SE1 9DG. The closest tube station is London Bridge, the nearest train is London Bridge Rail Stations, and the closest parking is an NCP Car Park on Kipling Street.

The Clink Prison Museum Restaurant

If you are hungry after your visit, you can enjoy a delicious meal at The Clink Restaurant, located next to the museum. The restaurant is part of a rehabilitation program that trains prisoners in catering and hospitality skills. The food is prepared and served by inmates working towards their City & Guilds NVQs.

The Clink Prison Museum Restaurant offers a variety of dishes made with fresh and seasonal ingredients, such as lamb shank with mashed potatoes and red wine sauce or mushroom risotto with parmesan cheese. You can also choose from a selection of wines, beers, and soft drinks.

The restaurant is open from Monday to Friday for breakfast (07:30 – 10:00), lunch (12:00 – 15:00), and dinner (17:30 – 21:00). 

Just so you know, you will need to go through security checks before entering the restaurant, and you will not be able to bring any mobile phones or cameras inside.

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