Monday 5 October 2009

Supreme Court, Parliament Square SW1

The Supreme Court judges have sworn themselves in and have started work in the old Middlesex Guildhall, so here is one last curiosity from the building. Round the back is set a gateway from the old House of Correction or Bridewell in Tothill Fields, which was demolished to make way for Westminster Cathedral.
The stone above is inscribed with the date 1655 and states:
"Here are several Sorts of Work
For the Poor of this Parish...
and for such as will Beg and
Live Idle in this City and Liberty
of Westminster."

Bridewells, named after the original in the City of London, were places where the unemployed, unemployable and simply workshy were forced to pick oakum or walk a treadmill in grim, gloomy silence. They must have been unspeakable.
The old gateway was installed here by the GLC in 1969, hence the rather stuck-on appearance.

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