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Q: For Answerfinder please: Quality Control in Licensed Brothels ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: For Answerfinder please: Quality Control in Licensed Brothels
Category: Relationships and Society > Religion
Asked by: probonopublico-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 01 Nov 2006 21:28 PST
Expires: 01 Dec 2006 21:28 PST
Question ID: 779304
Hi, Again, Answerfinder

As you know, I'm off to Colindale today and while I was checking out
the train and underground stuff I stumbled upon the Clink Prison and
discovered that 'The Clink' was the popular name for the prison
attached to Winchester House, a palace that was the home of the
Bishops of Winchester from the 12th century until 1626.

The Clink Prison Museum reveals the gruesome nature of what life was
like for those serving their sentence there. Many of whom were women,
that worked in the brothels that were licensed by the Bishops. The
Clink is said to owe its name to the 'clinch' irons that were used to
pin prisoners to the wall or floor.

I never knew that the Bishops licensed brothels!

Presumably they also did their own Quality Control?

(Naughty Bishops!)

Is the place worth a visit?

No rush - I won't be back till much later.

All the Best

Subject: Re: For Answerfinder please: Quality Control in Licensed Brothels
Answered By: answerfinder-ga on 02 Nov 2006 01:14 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

I hope you?ve had a successful day.

Is the place worth a visit? In my view, don?t waste your time.
Why? It is not the original prison. That was destroyed in 1780. This
museum is a reconstruction built in the basement of a 19th century
warehouse, and to be honest, the photographs of the museum makes it
look rather amateurish.

Their website contains no useful information as it is under construction.

This BBC page provides a description of the museum. 

?The museum tries to recreate the conditions of the prison; lit by
candles, and covered in sawdust, some of the rooms are gloomier than
others. With the moans and groans coming from the waxworks it can be a
spooky place. Younger children might be scared to go in, as a waxwork
man hanging in a cage welcomes you down the stairs with groans at the

Arranged into a series of cells, it has such exhibits as a whipping
post, torture chair, foot crusher, and other torture implements.
Some of the items can be tried on; for instance there is a scolds
bridal, and ball and chains are around the museum in various places.
There are lots of pictures and articles around the rooms, and waxworks
of the types of people that would have been held there.?

This site contains photographs of the interior of the museum. Takes a
while to load.

Clink Prison was part of the Manor or Liberty of Clink in Southwark.
It also appears in the records spelt as Clinke. The area was once very
disreputable with stewhouses (in other words brothels) run by
stewholders, part of the area was also a Liberty (?exemption from
liability to arrest?). The King granted manorial control of the area
to the Bishop of Winchester which then gives rise to the suggestion
that the Bishop ran the brothels.

The history of the area is dealt with in great detail by the Victorian
Counties History. These some extracts, but you may wish to read the
history of the area in its entirety.

?The prison in 1714 was 'disused, very ruinous and of little or no
account.' Its decaying condition caused its removal in 1745 to a house
on Bankside, and this was burnt in 1780 during the Lord George Gordon
'The borough of Southwark: Manors', A History of the County of Surrey:
Volume 4 (1912), pp. 141-51. URL:

?Although, however, Southwark was fashionable for the residence of
great men, it had already in 1326 acquired a character for
disreputability. This was due in part to its suburban and waterside
situation and the weakness of its local government, in part to the
exemption from liability to arrest enjoyed within the liberties of
Paris Garden and of the Clink. In the latter the notorious Stews were
situated. The condition of the borough was not sensibly bettered by
its assignment to the City (see below), and it acquired an even darker
reputation after the dissolution of religious houses, for the inns of
ecclesiastics and other great houses came for the most part to be
divided into small dwellings or to give place to such.?
'The borough of Southwark: Introduction', A History of the County of
Surrey: Volume 4 (1912), pp. 125-35. URL:

In 1773 it was written of the area that,

?These stews, or bawdy-houses, in the year 1381, were plundered by Wat
Tyler; at which time it appears they were kept by Flemish bawds. In
the year 1506, they were, by order of Henry VII. shut up; but, being
re-opened soon after, their number was reduced from eighteen to
twelve: in the year 1546 they were, by proclamation of Henry VIII.
entirely suppressed.

A prison denominated the Clink was erected for the punishment of
offences committed in that district. This prison is still in being,
and the bishop of Winchester's steward tries pleas of debt, damage or
trespass in the liberty, for any sum.?
'Book 3, Ch. 1: Southwark', A New History of London: Including
Westminster and Southwark (1773), pp. 678-90. URL:

I?ve looked at my copy of John Stow?s A Survey of London  (1598) and
it says of the Clink,
?The next is the Clink, a jail or prison for the trespassers in those
parts: namely, in old times, for such as should brabble, fray or break
the peace on the said bank, or in the brothel -houses, they were by
the inhabitants thereabout apprehended and committed to this jail,
where they were straitly imprisoned.?

The National Archives contain many records referring to the prison and
these are just a selection.

?The Liberty of the Clink was a district of Southwark on the eastern
side of Borough High Street near the river, which owed its distinctive
identity to its ownership from the early Middle Ages by the Bishops of
Winchester. The bishops enjoyed a manorial jurisdiction over the
district, which was sometimes accorded the alternative name -
especially in formal documents - of 'The Manor of Southwark'. The
palace of the bishops stood just to the west of the present Southwark
Cathedral. Much of the Liberty constituted the bishops' park until the
late 17th century, when building development of the estate began in
earnest. The Liberty took its name from the bishops' small prison; the
word may have derived from the Low Countries, whence came many of
Southwark's late mediaeval residents. The modern Dutch word 'klink'
means a latch.?

?Bargain and sale by 1) Thomas Walker of Camberwell esq to 2) Sir John
Lenthall, of St George's, Southwark, and others (named), being
trustees for Surrey "for the purchasing and setting of a common gaole
for the same county" - ref. QS5/4/4/7  - date: 17 Sep 1650

Messuage heretofore known as the Clinke Prison in St Saviour,
Southwark, abutting on a certain large zoo and ground and yard
belonging to the capital or mansion house there called Winchester
House on E, and on Clink Street on the N?

?Thomas TAYLOUR, Myles NYLSON, and John DRAPER v. the bailiff of the
manor of the CLINK and the keeper of the prison there, and Robert
BULLEYN of Southwark, smith.: Action on a usurious contract against
the Act 5 & 6 Edward VI, c. 20. Corpus cum causa and subpoena.:

?Undertaking by Henry Jacob, congregationalist, not to circulate his
book entitled Reasons taken out of God's word... proving a necessitie
of reforming our churches in England, 1604, or to speak against church
government, 4 April 1605, and a copy of a letter from him to the
Bishop of London praying to be released from the Clink. Also a note by
him of matters in his book.?

?Petition of Jasper Loberick, prisoner in the Clink for his faith - 3
papers attached recommended by the French Ambassador.?

?Summons to William Strafford, creditor of Margaret Butler, a prisoner
for debt in the Clink, to appear at the next General Quarter Sessions
on 10 July 1705 to show cause why the prisoner should not be
discharged under the Insolvent Debtors' ActQS2/6/1705/8
Date: 1705.?

?Orders to the keeper of the Clink prison to bring before the bench
Charles Pittman, Richard Felhar, Richard Farthing, all prisoners for
debt - ref.QS2/6/1729/Mid/5-14 - date:1729?

The word Clink for a prison is later used elsewhere in the country.
This is one from Cornwall.
St Issey Deeds.
?Vestry 2 Oct. 1826 agreed Thos. Geach could buy the remainder of the
houses occ. Warren Leverton with the Clink or Town prison with rooms
over occ. by sundry paupers for 125.
Vestry 11 January 1827 confirmed all these sales.?

I don't think I can add much more. I'm now off to the local stewhouse.

I hope this answers your question. If it does not, or the answer is
unclear, then please ask for clarification of this research before
rating the answer. I shall respond to the clarification request as
soon as I receive it.
Thank you
probonopublico-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $15.00
Fabulous, Answerfinder ...

Dare I say that you seemed to enjoy this one?

And I will certainly give the Museum a miss, thanks to your diligent research.

Sadly, my visit to Colindale was not as productive as I had hoped and
so much of their stuff has been reduced to microfilm which absolutely
ruins any piccies and, for me, it's harder to plough through films
than hard copies.

All the Very Best


Subject: Re: For Answerfinder please: Quality Control in Licensed Brothels
From: frde-ga on 02 Nov 2006 04:50 PST
Very impressive.

Curiously a 'Stew' is also the old name for a fish pond, a monastery
would have a stew.

I have distant memories of brothels being owned/licensed by the
Church, on the South Bank in London - the connection with jails is a
new one to me.

I wonder whether they accepted Luncheon Vouchers ...
Subject: Re: For Answerfinder please: Quality Control in Licensed Brothels
From: myoarin-ga on 02 Nov 2006 05:28 PST
"Liberty of Clink", reminds me of Die grosse Freiheit in Hamburg, a
street in a once similar neighbourhood, being outside the area in
which only Protestant churches and tradesmen who where members of a
guild could operate.  I believe there is an RC church further down the
Er, well, ... I don't think the women with a trade within that area
were members of guild, so I expect that they had to work under cover,
but under cover work is something Bryan knows a lot about, I
understand.  ;-)

Stew - brothel, maybe related to broth?  Nope, brothel is short for
brothel-house and originally referred to the girls found there.
Subject: Re: For Answerfinder please: Quality Control in Licensed Brothels
From: answerfinder-ga on 02 Nov 2006 06:15 PST
The OED states that it is derived from Stew meaning a heated room used
for hot air or vapour baths, and the frequent use of the public
hot-air bath-houses for immoral purposes.

Chaucer mentions them in the Friar's Tale
FrT 1332 "Peter! so been wommen of the styves,"

?When the Friar brags that summoners "han of us no jurisdiccioun"
because errant friars were judged by their orders' superiors rather
than the archbishop's court, the Summoner interrupts to compare their
"immunity" to that of "wommen of the styves" (III.1330, 1332). The
gloss tells you that these brothels (Early ModE. "stewes") were
licensed by the archbishop (n. 123).?

Luncheon vouchers? Is Cynthia Payne really that old? Perhaps, it was Mitre Vouchers.
Subject: Re: For Answerfinder please: Quality Control in Licensed Brothels
From: answerfinder-ga on 03 Nov 2006 00:30 PST
Many thanks for you generous tip.
Sorry to hear of the disappointing expedition. I remember last time I
went to the newspaper library, the papers I looked at were
disintegrating as I was turning the pages. Perhaps when it all goes
digital it may improve things.

I presume you?ve seen their test site they issued 4 years ago? It
hasn?t been updated since, so I?m not sure whether this will be the
final format.
Works in Internet Explorer only.
Subject: Re: For Answerfinder please: Quality Control in Licensed Brothels
From: probonopublico-ga on 03 Nov 2006 01:19 PST
Interesting comment, Answerfinder ...

Because several readers' desks at Colindale carried fragments from old
newspapers, so the deterioration is happening before our very eyes.

Having said that, some journals dated 1920-1924 that I looked in hard
copy remained as good as new.

However, I was a little peeved because I had been assured that hard
copies of some stuff that I pre-ordered would be in hard copy, and

Next time, I would like you to come along with me so you can read the
Riot Act, wave your truncheon, and do all that other stuff that you do
so well.


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