In Pictures: Inside Clerkenwell House Of Detention Catacombs
Mouse-eye view of the Victorian brickwork.
Mouse-eye view of the Victorian brickwork.The entrance room contains a number of holding cells, given replica wooden doors by a recent production.The street entrance is marked ‘school keeper’.Flight of stairs leading down to the catacombs.Numerous storage rooms radiate from the main area.Brief history of the complex, dating from when this was a tourist attraction.The main space, complete with puddles and atmospheric lighting.Note the rusted metal lintel above the right-hand opening.A long, narrow passage spans the entire southern edge of the complex. The scene in the Westminster tunnels from the recent Sherlock Holmes movie was filmed here.Rusted pipes are not always what they seem. These sections were artificially aged by the recent Sherlock Holmes production. And another, with pun.A fire escape leads up to a second entry point in the school playground.Another view in the southern tunnel.
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.