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Inner court, Fleet Prison, London, 1808-1811. Artist: Thomas Rowlandson

Inner court, Fleet Prison, London, 1808-1811. Artist: Thomas Rowlandson


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Inner court, Fleet Prison, London, 1808-1811. Artist: Thomas Rowlandson

Inner court, Fleet Prison, London, 1808-1811. Prisoners playing fives and skittles, and socialising. Fleet Prison was a prison for debt and contempt of court. From The Microcosm of London, illustrated by Pugin and Rowlandson and published by Ackermann. (London, 1808-1811)

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Media ID 14848907

© Ann Ronan Picture Library / Heritage-Images

Augustus Charles Augustus Charles Pugin Captivity Courtyard Debt Debtor Exercise Fleet Prison Game Penitentiary Prison Prisoner Pugin Punishment Rowlandson Skittles Thomas Rowlandson Ann Ronan Pictures Aquatint Fives Pastime


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EDITORS COMMENTS
This print captures the inner court of Fleet Prison in London during the early 19th century. Painted by renowned artists Augustus Charles Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson, this image offers a glimpse into the concept of poverty and captivity within the prison walls. The scene depicts prisoners engaging in various activities, such as playing fives and skittles, while also socializing with one another. Fleet Prison was notorious for housing individuals who were unable to pay their debts or had shown contempt towards the court system. The vibrant colors used in this aquatint print bring to life the dilapidated interior of the prison building. The crowded courtyard showcases people from different walks of life, all bound together by their unfortunate circumstances. Despite their dire situation, these prisoners find solace in games and sports as a means of temporary escape from their harsh reality. It is a poignant reminder that even amidst punishment and confinement, human nature seeks moments of leisure and camaraderie. This artwork serves as a historical testament to an era when debtors faced unimaginable hardships within penitentiaries like Fleet Prison. Through its intricate details and skilled craftsmanship, it transports us back to a time when poverty-stricken individuals struggled against societal constraints imposed upon them by law and circumstance.

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