Sunday, November 27, 2011
Under lock and key (1)
I’ve blogged before about lock-ups, the small village prisons that were used until the 19th century. They catch my eye because they’re often unusual shapes (one like a pyramid, another with a conical top) and because they have interesting roofs, built with heavy stone blocks to make them secure. There are quite a lot of lock-ups still standing.
This domed example in the middle of the Wiltshire village of Shrewton is known locally as the Blind House, from its lack of windows. It was probably built in the ealy-18th century, and, as well as being a place to detain local wrongdoers, it may have been used as an overnight stop for prisoners being taken from the Devizes Assize Courts to the gaol at Fisherton.
The lock-up has been rebuilt twice – once after being hit by a tank during World War II and once in the 1980s, when it was moved back from its original site very close to the road, to make further mishaps with passing traffic less likely. In its safer, set-back position, it looks solid enough to stay standing for another two or three centuries.