In the reign of his son, the neighbouring old site of Bridewell came into favour again, and Henry the Eighth built on it a new palace. The Emperor Charles the Fifth came to visit Henry and Catherine of Arragon, and although the Emperor chose to be lodged at the Blackfriars, his suite was entertained and lodged here.
A gallery of communication was built from the palace over the Fleet River, through the City Wall, into the Blackfriars. Henry occupied Bridewell frequently, and it was in this palace that he assembled all the nobility, judges, and councillors to open unto them his doubts as to the validity of his marriage with Catherine. The King and Queen lodged here also whilst the question was being argued in the Hall of the Blackfriars, 1529.
Edward the Sixth alienated it and bestowed it on the City of London to be used as a house for the poor, and also as a place of confinement for idle and vicious vagrants, who were there whipped and made to work, very much against their wills.
The character of the entertainment provided for the unwilling inmates does not seem to have much varied down to the time of Hogarth, who showed the interior in Plate IV. of the "Harlot's Progress." Disobedient or idle apprentices within the city were also committed to Bridewell by the City Chamberlain.
Beyond Bridewell the houses cluster thickly round St. Bride's, and on the ground lately occupied by the Whitefriars houses are being rapidly erected, forming a neighbourhood which, through some mistaken idea of sanctuary, will soon degenerate into the notorious Alsatia.Next page: Exeter House