The Clink Prison Museum: A Yearful of London Week 9
Given that Secret London Runs' inaugural running tour, In the Shadow of the Shard is based around the murky past of the Borough a visit to the Clink Prison Museum seemed well overdue.
And if that wasn't enough, our anniversary team running challenge event in October is a Prison Break Run - centred around a fictitious medieval breakout from the Clink Prison.
"Enough about Secret London Runs" you say...
OK...fair enough! Off we went to the Clink Prison Museum along the South Bank.
Already sold on the content - the history of this area is absolutely fascinating - my review is based on style and how they used that content.
For this I'm going to give them a 2/10.
There were a number of statues that gave a half-baked idea about what it would have been like for people left to rot in the clink.
But it felt a bit theatrical.
And you could easily leave the museum with no deep sadness that this is actually how people were made to live.
I've read a lot about these conditions and didn't really think these visuals evoked the response that they should. They should have been harrowing - we should have left unable to believe that human beings were made to live like that.
The rest of the museum was a series of plaques - thankfully it wasn't all new history for me. They were fascinating, but I couldn't help being pretty disappointed.
There was a huge focus on the gory aspects of life in the Clink Prison - torture takes up about a third of the museum. It felt like the curators thought that was the only thing that would pull in the crowds. I'd have liked to learn more about life in Southwark at that time, how people ended up in the Clink? How was it different for the rich and the poor? What options did women have?
The second thing that saddened me was that the presentation was so lazy. With subject matter this interesting, and with a location in the heart of the South Bank, this place has the opportunity to engage locals and visitors alike in history.
In a world where it seems fewer and fewer people care about the lives of those in times gone by, that's an important role!
But sticking a few plaques on the wall isn't going to make history come alive.
I'd love to give this museum an epic makeover and finally do justice to the important story that it has to tell in our city's history. With more interactive displays, videos and features, visitors would leave really imagining what it would have liked to be back in the Clink in medieval London.
In the meantime, I'll settle for showing people through Secret London Run's In the Shadow of the Shard running tour... Sorry - final plug!
A Yearful of London is the New Year's Resolution of Secret London Runs Co-Founder Vanessa. Each week, she's out doing something-you-can-only-do-in-London. Comment below if you have any ideas!