AskDefine | Define bridewell

Extensive Definition

Bridewell Palace, London, originally a residence of Henry VIII, later became a poorhouse and prison. Its name has come to be synonymous with police stations and detention facilities in England and Ireland.
It 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 15151523. Standing on the banks of the Fleet River, it was named for 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. A pet project of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, it was abandoned by the king after Wolsey's fall in 1530. It was leased to the French ambassador 15311539.
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 Canada also borrowed the name Bridewell. Nowadays, the term frequently refers to a city's main detention facility, usually in close proximity to a courthouse, as in Nottingham, Leeds, Gloucester, Bristol, Dublin and Cork.
Eventually, the site of Bridewell Palace became a school known as Bridewell Royal Hospital. Most of the palace was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and rebuilt in 16661667. In 1700 it became the first prison to appoint medical staff (a doctor). The prison was closed in 1855, and the buildings destroyed 18631864. The school moved to a new site in Surrey, and changed its name to King Edward's School, Witley. It celebrated its 450th year in 2003.
The main site of the palace is now occupied by the Unilever Building, (built 1931).
bridewell in Esperanto: Palaco Bridewell
bridewell in Hebrew: ארמון בריידוול
bridewell in Norwegian: Bridewell Palace
bridewell in Polish: Pałac Bridewell
bridewell in Portuguese: Bridewell Palace
bridewell in Turkish: Bridewall Sarayı
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