Winchester Palace, Southwark Clink

As I strolled about the alleyways of Southwark this summer, I came across some ruined walls below the current ground level and to the side of the lane. They are the remains of old Winchester Palace, London's seat of the Bishops of Winchester. Many of these men might be summed up by the names of two of the early Saxon holders of the see, Wine and Dudd. Indeed, some of them, like Stephen Gardiner, were deeply unpleasant fellows, indelibly hostile to the cause of Reformation truth.

Part of the palace was a prison called the Clink, from which the expression ‘thrown into the clink' derives. It probably comes from the sound of the clinking of irons being attached to wrists and ankles. Although it held a number of prisoners including prostitutes and debtors, it also housed religious dissidents, including a number I would reckon heroes of the faith:

1550- John Rogers, who published the Matthew Bible

1555- John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester and Refomer

1586- John Greenwood, imprisoned ‘for reading scripture’ (in too puritan a manner, presumably)

1590s- Henry Barrowe and John Greenwood, released from The Clink 1592, founded the Independent Church, returned to the Clink in 1593 and then hanged at Tyburn.

1605 Henry Jacob, first pastor of the First Independent (or congregational) Church in London

1630s- John Lothropp, second pastor of the First Independent (or congregational) Church in London

Not all the Bishops' guests were reformers and puritans, for a number of Catholics suffered equally terribly for their faith. Nevertheless, the Clink, upon the site of which is now a museum, and the episcopal palace, which is now ruinous, have sorrowful connotations. Whether powerful prince or filthy prisoner, all are now released from their earthy abodes, to appear before the God who will judge each with equity.

There the wicked cease from troubling,

And there the weary are at rest.

There the prisoners rest together;

They do not hear the voice of the oppressor.

The small and great are there,

And the servant is free from his master.

Job 3:17-19 (New King James Version)

Better off are they who leave a dungeon for a palace, than those who live in a palace holding others in a dungeon.