“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”
– Nelson Mandela
“The Cubards Empty To Our Sorrow But Hope It Will Be Full tomorrow.”
This was a wall of a prison cell of Wellclose Prison, (also known as Neptune Street Prison), it was located near the Tower of London and was mainly a Debtors Prison but there were also those who stayed there awaiting transfer to Newgate Prison.
The message on this wall was most likely from an insolvent debtor as prisons were once run as a commercial basis and the inmates had to pay for food and drink from the gaoler.
There are other engravings, more messages, some of buildings, a gallows, men hanging from gibbits, and plenty of names with some dates as well.
The prison was finally closed sometime in the nineteenth century but had barely been used since the 1790’s and demolished in 1911. The cell was dismantled and placed in the Museum of London where I came across it. I spent a bit of time in this cell, reading the walls, and I noticed while plenty of people stepped in they didn’t stay long, I’m not sure if it’s because they felt uncomfortable in the small space, or they because they realised what they had just stepped into. Luckily, they could leave when they wanted, and I wonder if that thought even crossed their minds.