On Saturday I decided to indulge in a little sight-seeing before I move away from London next week. I’d walked past the Clink Prison Museum many times over the last seven years as it sits on the route between the replica Golden Hinde and the Tate Modern. As I was already in the Southwark area visiting the Old Operating Theatre (review coming soon) I decided I’d pop in to take a look around.
Oh how I wish I hadn’t bothered. The original Clink Prison was built in 1144, and the museum stands on the site. After heading down below street level, I was confronted with just a handful of rooms containing replica instruments of torture and punishment, such as the Scavenger’s Daughter, the Ball and Chain, and the Scold’s Bridle. All well and good, you might think, and there were certainly plenty of information boards on the walls. In fact, I’d venture to say there were too many information boards, and many of them well over three feet long. The longer boards were written in such a dry, boring style that it was nigh-on impossible to maintain interest, and the task of concentrating on such a vast amount of text was made even more difficult by the deafening volume of the audio clips being played through hidden speakers.
Worse still, nearly all of the smaller boards were riddled with typos, spelling mistakes, and appalling grammatical errors. The facts displayed may have been correct but one has to doubt the veracity of the information on display if the writer cannot be bothered to use correct English. Indeed, many of the mistakes would have been highlighted in Word, and it would have been best if they’d hired a professional copywriter, or even just a proof reader, to check them before they put them up. One of them even had a handwritten correction emblazoned on it in black marker pen. Hardly a professional image, is it?
It took me just twenty minutes to get around the “museum”. I don’t feel I learned anything I didn’t already know, and if I’d wanted to see a collection of torture devices, I could have easily gone to either Ripley’s Believe it or not in Piccadilly Circus, or the torture museum at Chillingham Castle in Northumberland. I was incredibly disappointed by the visit, and considering the fact I’d paid a £6 entrance fee, I also felt vaguely cheated.
If you’re in London and looking for a way to kill half an hour, I’d suggest you patronise a local coffee shop, or just simply watch the boats on the river instead.