1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bridewell
BRIDEWELL, a district of London between Fleet Street and the Thames, so called from the well of St Bride or St Bridget close by. From William the Conqueror's time, a castle or Norman tower, long the occasional residence of the kings of England, stood there by the Fleet ditch. Henry VIII., Stow says, built there "a stately and beautiful house," specially for the housing of the emperor Charles V. and his suite in 1525. During the hearing of the divorce suit by the Cardinals at Blackfriars, Henry and Catharine of Aragon lived there. In 1553 Edward VI. made it over to the city as a penitentiary, a house of correction for vagabonds and loose women; and it was formally taken possession of by the lord mayor and corporation in 1555. The greater part of the building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. New Bridewell, built in 1829, was pulled down in 1864. The term has become a synonym for any reformatory.