- A place erected by Henry VIII. to the west of Fleet River, between the river and Whitefriars (S. 70), c. 1522.In 1531 Sir Wm. Weston, prior of St. John's Hospital, Clerkenwell, made a grant of one tenement and fifteen gardens, on which site parcel of the place called "Brydewell" was built, 1531 (L. and P. H. VIII. V. 120).In 1532 an exchange was effected with the Knights of St. John of the manor of Bridewell (ib. 581).There was a gallery from the Palace leading to the Blackfriars. The attendants of Chas. V. were entertained here (S. 397), and King Henry and Queen Katherine lodged here, 1529 (S. 398).It was given by Edward VI. to the City for a workhouse.Found burdensome as attracting vagrants to London. Burnt in the Fire and rebuilt 1668. Apprentices trained there. United to Bethlehem 1729, and used as a prison for vagrants, idle apprentices, etc., and house of correction.There was a chapel in Bridewell, injured in the Fire, but rebuilt.The name is said to have been derived from a well in the neighbourhood known as St. Bride's Well, which may be identical with a now disused well and pump built into the eastern wall of the churchyard in Bride Lane.Sold 1863, and site laid out in streets, Bridewell Place, Tudor Street, etc.See Bridewell Precinct.During recent excavations in Water Street and the neighbourhood remains of brick arches have been found, and it has been suggested that these were the remains of a tower or castle which existed on this site in Norman times and later (Trans. L. and M. Arch. Soc. II. (1), p. 86), and are referred to by Stow in the following terms : "Another Tower or Castle also was there in the west parts of the Cittie, pertayning to the King. For I reade that in the yeare 1087, the 20 of William the first, the Cittie of London with the Church of S. Paule being burned, Mauritius, then Bishop of London, afterwards began the foundation of a new Church, whereunto king William sayeth mine Author, gave the choyce stones of this Castle standing neare to the banke of the riuer Thames, at the west end of the Citie"; (S. 69.) Stow goes on to say that this castle stood on the site of Bridewell, and after the destruction of the Tower the house was still used by the kings as a residence, and that the law courts were held there in consequence, in accordance with the practice of that time when the courts followed the person of the king and were held in his royal residence. For instance, in 1295 an agreement between the Abbot of Ramsey and Wm. de Haliwelle was made "in curia domini regis apud Sanctam Brigidam" (Cart. Mon. de Ramsey, II. 387). It afterwards fell into decay until rebuilt by Henry VIII. in 1522.In connection with this statement it must not be forgotten that the moat of the castle included in the king's gift for the enlargement of St. Paul's is expressly stated in the Liber Custumarum to be "Baynard's Castle," so that it is doubtful whether Stow's remarks can be regarded as an authentic reference to a castle on this site. It is difficult to see how the moat of a castle on the site of Bridewell could be given for the enlargement of St. Paul's.
A Dictionary of London. Henry A Harben. 1918.