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London Calling: Crime and Punishment in the Big Smoke: Part Two

Tower of London

In my last book, Songs by Dead Girls, I moved the action away from Edinburgh to the throbbing metropolis of London. In September’s Bloody Scotland Festival, I’ll be called to account (along with the fabulous James Oswald and Ed James) to explain our audacity in setting our stories in London, when there are so many fantastic sites for murderous activity North of the Border.

I did some preparation for this, and as well as visiting some well-known tourist sites (can you guess where from the picture?!) I spend some quality research time in a couple of London museums. In part one, I looked at the exhibits of the City of London Police Museum. Now I'm looking at the other side of the coin...

Part Two: Punishment

Clink Prison Museum

Have you ever wondered where the phrase 'in the clink' came from? One of the many questions answered by the Clink Prison Museum, built on the site of the original Clink Prison (1144-1780). It was one of six prisons owned by the Bishop of Winchester.

The prison was located in Southwark, which was home to a thousand vices, including gambling, bull and bear baiting, dog and cock fights, drinking and general carousing. Most sinful of the lot was, of course, the nearby Globe Theatre...

While there were many ways to end up in the Clink (murder, debt, trespass, and all manner of immoral behaviour), the area that was of most interest to me was the section around 'Book Burnings.' Yes, being in possession of the wrong kind of literature was a good way of ending up in prison, and if you were very unlucky, experiencing some extremely nasty torture methods.

Kelly, James, and Oswald fail to impress the Bloody Scotland audience

Those imprisoned due to book crimes include Sir Thomas Wyatt The Younger (son of the Renaissance poet of the same name), who rebelled against Queen ‘Bloody’ Mary I; John Rogers, the man responsible for translating the Bible into English from Latin during the reign of the aforementioned Roman Catholic Queen; and the men who became the Pilgrim Fathers.

The Clink Museum is located on Clink Street (of course!) near London Bridge. You can find out more HERE.

The Bloody Scotland event 'London Calling: James Oswald, Ed James and Lesley Kelly' is on Saturday 22nd September from 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm. Tickets are available HERE

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