Bridewell Palace

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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 Canadaalso borrowed the name Bridewell. the term frequently refers to a city's main detention facility, usually close to a...
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