Londons Fleet Prison was built in 1197 off what is now Farringdon Street, on the eastern bank of the River Fleet after which it was named. During the 18th century, Fleet Prison was mainly used for debtors and bankrupts. It usually contained about 300 prisoners and their families. At that time prisons were profit-making enterprises. Prisoners had to pay for food and lodging. There were fees for turning keys or for taking irons off, and Fleet Prison had the highest fees in England. The head of the prison was termed the warden, who was appointed by Letters patent. It became a frequent practice of the holder of the patent to farm out the prison to the highest bidder. One purchaser of the office, Thomas Bambridge, who became warden in 1728, was of particularly evil repute. He arbitrarily and unlawfully loaded the prison with irons, put into dungeons, and destroyed prisoners for debt, treating them in the most barbarous and cruel manner, in high violation and contempt of the laws. The prisons dungeon cell doors would have been lock with a padlock similar to the Bambridge Fleet Medieval Prison Cell Padlock. This padlock is not just large; its massive in size, with whopping dimensions of 8.50? x 7.50?. Constructed entirely out of iron and is fully functional. Included are 2 keys on a chainmail keyring. This piece is great to use in plays, movies, or re-enactments.
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