Bridewell Palace
Bridewell Palace in London, originally a residence of King Henry VIII, later became a poorhouse and prison. The name "Bridewell" subsequently became synonymous with police stations and detention facilities in England and in Ireland. The palace was built on the site of the medieval St Bride's Inn at a cost of £39,000 for Henry VIII, who lived there between 1515”“1523. Standing on the banks of the River Fleet, it was named after a nearby well dedicated to St Bride. The papal delegation had preliminary meetings here in 1528 to discuss the King's divorce from Catherine of Aragon. The building was a pet project of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey but was abandoned by the king after Wolsey's fall in 1530. It was leased to the French ambassador 1531”“1539. In 1553, Edward VI gave the palace over to the City of London for the housing of homeless children and for the punishment of "disorderly women". The City took full possession in 1556 and turned the palace into a prison, hospital, and workrooms. The name "Bridewell" was also adopted for other prisons in London, including the Clerkenwell Bridewell (opened in 1615) and Tothill Fields Bridewell in Westminster. Similar institutions throughout England, Ireland, and Canada as well as in the United States also borrowed the name Bridewell. As of 2011 the term frequently refers to a city's main detention facility, usually close to a courthouse, as in Nottingham, Leeds, Gloucester, Bristol, Dublin and Cork. In the Beatles film, A Hard Day's Night , Paul's grandfather ( Wilfrid Brambell) reports the arrest of Ringo to the studio by saying "The police have the poor lad in the Bridewell - he'll be pulp by now!" shortly after the police have referred to the cheeky Ringo as " Charlie Peace" suggesting that this usage refers to the Leeds Bridewell, allegedly haunted by the ghost of Charlie Peace, a violent thief and double murderer who was held there before his trial and execution at Armley Gaol in 1879. Eventually, the site of Bridewell Palace became a school known as Bridewell Royal Hospital. Most of the palace was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and rebuilt in 1666”“1667. In 1700 it became the first prison to appoint medical staff (a doctor). The prison was closed in 1855, and the buildings demolished in 1863”“1864. The school moved to a new site in Surrey, and changed its name to King Edward's School, Witley. It celebrated its 450th year in 2003. The original gate house is incorporated as the front of an office block at 14 New Bridge Street, including a relief portrait of Edward VI. The main site area of the school/ palace stretches from there southwards along the west-side of the street to the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Unilever House, (built in 1931), which stands at the corner of "Watergate" - the previous river entrance to the precincts, off the Fleet-Thames confluence.


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Building Activity

  • removed a media and updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via
  • updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via Annotator