Thursday, December 1, 2011
Under lock and key (2)
Here’s another example of a local lock-up designed to be easy on the eye, but in a different style from the round, domed one at Shrewton in the previous post. The ogee-shaped gable, its double curves rising to a ball finial in the centre, is a baroque touch that’s quite surprising on what is basically a small prison. The gable conceals a roof covered in Cotswold stone “slates”, just visible in the picture. Beneath this roof are two separate cells with barred doors and above the doors are semi-circular openings like little barred fanlights. Inside, the cells have stone-vaulted ceilings, to prevent inmates from dismantling the roof and escaping.
For all the bars, the symmetrical front, with its curvaceous gable and finial, make this lock-up look rather like a picturesque garden building – a rather different visual approach from the usual “castle turret” appearance of many village lock-ups. The double accommodation, in contrast to the usual single cell, sets this building apart too. Bisley is quite a large village, but I don’t know if it was a particularly lawless place in 1824, when this little structure was built. For whatever reason, its builders felt that two cells were better than one.