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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Prison, Ecclesiastical.

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A bishop was required to have one or more prisons for criminous clerks in 1261. That of the bishop of Chichester remains over his palace gate; and the bishop of London's gate-house stood at the west side of Westminster Abbey. The southwestern tower of Clugny was used as a prison. There were various names for prisons: 1, Little Ease, in which the prisoner could neither sit, lie, nor stand; 2, Bocardo, as over the gate near St. Michael's at Oxford; 3, Hell, as at Ely; and, 4, the Lying House at Durham. At Durham, Berne, and Norwich the conventual cells adjoined the chapter-house; at Durham the term of imprisonment lasted sometimes during a year, and was often attended with chains, food being let down by a rope through a trap- door. In all cases solitary confinement was practiced, and in some cases the guilty were immured after the pronunciation of the sentence Vade in pace, "Go in peace." At Thornton the skeleton of abbot De Multon (cir. 1445), with a candlestick, chair, and table, was found built up within a recess in the wall; and a cell, with a loop-hole looking towards the high-altar, remains at the Temple, in which William le Bachelor, grand preceptor of Ireland, died. At Clugny the prison had no stair, no door, and no window. At Hirschau the prisoner could barely lie down; at St. Martin-desChamps the cell was subterranean; at St. Gabriel, Calvados, under a tower. The prisons remain at St. Gabriel, Calvados, Rebais, St. Peter-sur-Dives, and St. Benet-sur-Loire; at Caen, near the great gate; and over it at Tewkesbury, Binham, Hexham, Bridlington, and Malling. The prison was under the charge of the master of the infirmary. "Criminous priests" were imprisoned in 740 in England, and in 1351 their meager fare was prescribed. Walcott, Sacred Archaeology, s.v.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Prison, Ecclesiastical.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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