Sponging house

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(Eng. Law) a bailiff's or other house in which debtors are put before being taken to jail, or until they compromise with their creditors. At these houses extortionate charges are commonly made for food, lodging, etc.

See also: Sponging

References in classic literature ?
My husband had this excellence, that he valued nothing of expense; and as his history, you may be sure, has very little weight in it, 'tis enough to tell you that in about two years and a quarter he broke, and was not so happy to get over into the Mint, but got into a sponging-house, being arrested in an action too heavy from him to give bail to, so he sent for me to come to him.
She had been remarkable, when a tender prattler for an uncommon talent in counterfeiting the walk and manner of a bailiff: in which character she had learned to tap her little playfellows on the shoulder, and to carry them off to imaginary sponging-houses, with a correctness of imitation which was the surprise and delight of all who witnessed her performances, and which was only to be exceeded by her exquisite manner of putting an execution into her doll's house, and taking an exact inventory of the chairs and tables.
We hear little of Johnson's near poverty--he once briefly experienced imprisonment for debt and on another occasion had to be rescued from a sponging-house where he was temporarily held for debt--and the long, lean years in Grub Street hacking out an existence as an anonymous author.