Wood Street Compter

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Wood Street Compter
ONL (1887) 1.366 - Wood Street Compter, 1793.jpg
The Wood Street Compter in 1793
Notable prisoners
Robert Wedderburn (radical)

The Wood Street Compter (or Wood Street Counter) was a small prison within the City of London in England. It was primarily a debtors' prison, and also held people accused of such misdemeanours as public drunkenness, although some wealthier prisoners were able to obtain alcohol through bribery. The prison was built and opened in 1555, replacing the earlier Bread Street Compter, from which many prisoners were transferred. Wood Street was closed and replaced by Giltspur Street Compter in 1791.[3]

The Compter was originally one of two prisons, the other, the Poultry Compter, located on the Poultry. Both were destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666, although the Poultry Compter was rebuilt, and another compter, Giltspur Street Compter was constructed in 1791.

The Wood Street Compter was still active in 1727 when The London Gazette (6 July p4) listed 13 insolvent debtors awaiting court on 25 August.

During the closure of the compters, debtors were held in prisons in Southwark, including the Marshalsea and King's Bench Prisons, Borough Compter and Horsemonger Lane Gaol.

Some wine cellars on Mitre Court were marketed as a party venue under the name of "The City Compter" but these appear to date from the mid 18th century; no sign of the prison was found during archaeological investigations of the site of a new office block at One Wood Street.[4]

Notable inmates[edit]


  1. ^ Christopher Hibbert; Ben Weinreb; John Keay; Julia Keay (9 September 2011). The London Encyclopaedia (3rd Edition). Pan Macmillan. pp. 87–. ISBN 978-0-230-73878-2.
  2. ^ London: Rebuilding the City After the Great Fire. Phillimore. 2000. ISBN 978-1-86077-113-2.
  3. ^ Mitchel P. Roth (2006). Prisons and Prison Systems: A Global Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 67–. ISBN 978-0-313-32856-5.
  4. ^ Quarterly Review December 2004-March 2005 (PDF), Greater London Archaeology Advisory Service, p. 31 They refer to the site as 120 Cheapside, although the office block is now known as One Wood Street.
  5. ^ Recusant History. Catholic Record Society. 1970.
  6. ^ Robert Lemon (1865). Calendar of State Papers: Preserved in the State Paper Department of Her Majesty's Public Record Office. Reign of Elizabeth : 1581 - 1590. H.M. Stationery Office. pp. 606–.
  7. ^ Joseph Woodfall Ebsworth (1878). The Bagford Ballads: Illustrating the Last Years of the Stuarts. Ballad Society. pp. 633–.

Further reading[edit]

  • Harben, Henry Andrade. A Dictionary of London: Being Notes Topographical and Historical Relating to the Streets and Principle Buildings in the City of London. London: H. Jenkins, 1918.

Coordinates: 51°30′55″N 0°5′39″W / 51.51528°N 0.09417°W / 51.51528; -0.09417