Friday 15 July 2011

The Clink Liberty

Established in the 12C then a competitor for the capital's oldest gaol is surely The Clink Liberty. Earlier still and our old and dear friend the Bishop of Winchester (when he was not through the centuries overseeing his brothels, theatres or teasing his trained rats with their tiny, clever hands) had the very place for putting clerics that displeased him. Presumably clerics not especially keen on such local industry as murdering people for their shoes. The Clink then was raised and did very well by itself until a slight hiccup during one of the many rambles-by of the London Mob when in the 15C it was broken open, set alight and presumably for a while there were shoes for all.
It’s still there though now as an attraction for gawkers and self-gropers disappointed that earlier having turned up to Bedlam to laugh at the maniacs they found instead much less capering in what is now the Imperial War Museum. Escorted here by their hide-waistcoated gaolers then (and with a surreptitious loss of a five pound note, they accept no substitute) the unwary might see the upper levels. There and toiling still, crying for bubbly water to sip and tiny, tiny trousers into which to squeeze are the fallen-fashionista. No longer quite so young, nor quite so fabulous, caught and brought here in brocade sacks they toil to produce the prison-wares sold in the Clink Liberty shop in Regent Street. Where once prisoners might have unpicked tarred hemp rope to make caulking, or render the less fortunate down for tallow, now and more properly the Clink Liberty sees its guests work off their sentence with delicious print scarves and divine haberdashery.  

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