In Pictures: Inside Clerkenwell House Of Detention Catacombs

The Clerkenwell House of Detention, north-east of Clerkenwell Green, has a long and turbulent history stretching back to 1617, including its destruction by fire in the 1780 Gordon Riots. The prison was demolished in 1893 to make way for Hugh Myddleton School (the impressive building still stands). Down beneath the playground, however, significant remnants of the older buildings remain (see our map of underground London for approximate area).

We gained access to these extensive catacombs courtesy of Itasca Locations, a company that provides unusual venues to film-makers. (Check out their web site for an impressive roll call of locations with pictures.) Previous productions to make use of the Clerkenwell House of Detention include the recent Sherlock Holmes movie (representing the tunnels below Westminster), Spooks, the Secret Diary of a Call Girl and St Trinian’s 2.

Click through the gallery for further descriptions, and check out our video walk-through below.

Inside the Clerkenwell House of Detention from Londonist on Vimeo.

Images by Dean Nicholas and M@ Brown.


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  • http://undefined cobo04

    Could always turn the site into housing, okay no windows or view but at least it could help with Londons homeless on a more permanent basis than at present.

    • http://undefined M@

      It was pretty damp down there, so they’d have to do some pretty serious structural repairs to make it habitable.

  • markvideo

    Also used by an art group i was involved with:

  • Mrandyjames

    Markvideo – do you know how the art group managed to negotiate use of the space?

  • Clerkenwell2010

    Clerkenwell Design Week will use The House of Detention as an exhibitor space this year! From the 24-26th of May 2011. Clerkenwell Design Week is a three day festival in London’s creative heart. Big design names and thought leaders host an exciting programme of workshops, presentations, exhibitions and debates. FREE registration can be done here:

  • Catharine Arnold

    coming here to film tomorrow and really looking forward to it!

    • Erin Large

      Could I ask who you got in contact with to film here? Thanks!

  • Erin Large

    Who do you have to get in touch with to possibly film here? Have been roaming the internet for hours trying to find the info!

  • stephen

    did you know that a million people literally disappeared in london prisons in the 19th century (p ackyroyd) and theres never been a public inquiry, apologies have been given to india and ireland but never to british people…i once almost went in this one when it was open as a museum about20yrs ago but there was a really bad vibe so i didnt bother

  • JM

    wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww I WANT TO GO HERE.

  • BacardiBarker

    The building is now flats but used to be part of Kingsway College. I did a Btec downstairs where our class room was a sectioned hallway and cells. It was great. You could see where the walls had been marked. Regret never going into the House of Detention. :(

  • Scooby

    The school above the dungeons is now luxurious apartments. I used to go to the school.