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London, England

The Clink Prison Museum

An incarceration museum on the spot of possibly the oldest prison in England. 

Operating from 1144 to 1780, The Clink may be the oldest prison in England, and the former penitentiary now houses a museum dedicated to its criminal past.

Built on the actual site of the ancient lock-up whose name became worldwide shorthand for “jail,” The Clink Museum offers a number of arresting (pun intended) educational options. Focusing on an interactive experience, the museum offers everything from prison artifacts for visitors to handle, to tours led by costumed guides, and even extended speeches by actors in character. The displays also feature audio and visual presentations and a number of realistic figures painted and dressed to look like the hoosegow’s prisoners and jailers.      

In many ways, The Clink Prison Museum is more of a dark historical funhouse than a stoic museum, but the long history of the clink it was built upon adds a gravitas that is undeniable.   

Know Before You Go

Walk along Clink Street, and you can't miss it. It's on the south side of the street

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