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The Queen’s Prison.

The Queen’s Prison at Southwark has been denuded of its contents, prior to its demolition, it is hoped. The great masters of the pen have not failed to perceive the dramatic aspects of life in this debtor’s prison, in which those who owed much fared sumptuously, as if they feared not any man ; while pitiful wretches, whom a hundred pounds would have set at liberty, almost starved to death on the meagre pittance allowed by the country, and the reception of which stamped them as creatures’of inferior race. Dirt and idleness reigned over all, and hunger dwelt side by side with drunkenness. In the olden time, before some slender provision was made for them, the poor debtors died by scores in severe winters of sheer cold and hunger, while the Hon. Algernon Deuceace and Captain Shandon fared sumptuously on the “ Queen’s side,” set apart for occasionally wealthy and always luxurious prisoners. All these strange features of prison life have been illumined by the greatest masters of English prose fiction from Fielding to Dickens, not a few of whom have had practical experience of them. There being no more need for the grim enclosure on the Surry side, with its excellent drainage and copious watersupply, tenders are invited for the buildings and grounds, in all some three and a half acres, by Her Majesty’s Office of Works. The prison has for some years past been undergoing a gradual process of denudation. Its celebrated bell has gone to the bran new prison at Wormwood Scrubs, which excites so much amazement among passengers by the Great Western Railway. Much of its ironw'ork, some of which, after being exported to Australia, was actually brought home again and built up at “ The Bench,” has been utilised by the Department, and will not be tendered for by the speculative persons asked to make up their minds early in September as to the value of the building and ground. There is little hope of the building being put to any use, and they will probably, together with the lofty wall which surrounds them, be razed to the ground. The site would then be invaluable for working men’s houses, and a hope may be expressed that this may be its ultimate employment. Such large spaces within roach of the in dustrial centres of the Metropolis are daily becoming more rare, and it would be a matter for regret that an opportunity like the present should be missed of erecting “ Bastilles,” as the new and convenient artizans’ dwellings are playfully called, on the site of the dreary structure once devr ted to a perpetuation of the atrocious spirit of ancient law against poor debtors. —“European Mail.”

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The Queen’s Prison. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 14, 28 October 1879

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