Saturday, 27 April 2013

GLOUCESTERSHIRE. Lock-ups at Bibery, Bisley, Bitton and Cirencester.

There is a varied collection of existing lock-ups in Gloucestershire.

Thanks to Richard Williams at the post office in Bibery I am able to record details of the lock-up there. It is situated on the B4425 near to the Swan Hotel, GL7 5NP and dates to the late 18th century.



OS Grid Reference: SP1146806956
OS Grid Coordinates: 411468, 206956
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7612, -1.8352

Photo's by Richard Williams
It was Grade 11 listed 5.2.1987 (No.127251) and described as :
Village lock-up. Late C18. Ashlar limestone; stone slate roof.
Hexagonal plan. Plain front doorway with heavy studded door.
Small square opening in rear wall with heavy vertical iron bars.
Plain eaves band. Hipped roof. Interior not inspected.

Listing NGR: SP1146806956
 Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.


In his 'Tales from Bibery Shop' blog, Richard Williams relates: 

" Prior to the 1839 County Police Act, sometimes known as the Rural Police Act, most villages of any size had a 'lock up', where law breakers could be detained prior to a court appearance.  The Act allowed for the appointment of a professional police constable, rather than the part time Parish constable, to be employed 'for the preservation of the peace and protection of the inhabitants'.  It also stipulated that a police house had to be constructed, along with appropriate cell accommodation.  The Old Police House is up on the Cirencester road in Arlington and looks as if it was built around the time of the Act.  However, the photo above is of the lock up.  It must have been a grim place to have spent anytime at all, never mind a cold winter's night.  The only window is a very small one to the rear which is heavily barred and the door is hugely thick and riveted.  It looks a little unloved at the moment, but it would be fascinating to find out who has languished within and why they were there!" "

The very unusual lock-up at Bisley is situated at 3 George Street, GL6 7BB and has two cells which are now covered by iron gates. It dates to 1824 (datestone) and was restored in 1999.


OS Grid Reference: SO9035406054
OS Grid Coordinates: 390354, 206054
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7531, -2.1411

Photo's by Roy Pledger
It was Grade 11 listed 28.6.1960 (No.132609) and described as :
 Village lock-up. Dated 1824. Ashlar limestone front; coursed
rubble to sides and rear; stone slate roof. Single-storey with 2
cells; small walled forecourt. Ogee-shaped parapet to front gable
with ball finial. Two square-headed openings with C20 restored
iron gates; lunette of same width set immediately above stone
lintel to each opening with iron grid-iron filling. Raised oval
datestone set centrally above. Plain sides and rear. Low
forecourt walls with central gate opening (gate missing) has plain coping.
Interior: oval stone tunnel-vaulted ceiling to each cell. A very
well preserved example of this building type.

Listing NGR: SO9035406054

Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.
A plaque on the wall tells us:


The village web site tells us : 
"The Lock-Up was built as the village prison in 1824 to replace the previous prison that had become unusable, which had been sited for centuries in the Church Yard.  When the new Lock-Up was originally built it would have boasted heavy solid wooden doors, that have longsince decayed.
Law and order was upheld by the local Magistrate, and also through the Church, a powerful force in those days. There were no official Police, the Gloucestershire Constabulary was only founded in 1836, but local men were appointed as village Constables. They were usually men who were sufficiently big in stature, and of good character.
Bisley, around this time – 1824, was a poor place indeed. The gentry were few in number and had a reasonably pleasant existence in their large houses and with horses and carriages to get around. For the ordinary folk poverty was all too common. The industrial revolution had taken work away from the cottage weavers, and those still in work were being paid less than a quarter of the wages they’d earned twenty years before.
Bisley at the crossroads of the Cheltenham Road and the route to Cirencester was becoming increasing less popular to traders and visitors because of the difficult hills and roads, and the weekly market here had all but died out.
The Workhouse, at Joiners Lane, was full of folk who could not provide for themselves, and conditions there were wretched. Crime and prostitution were rife, and drunkenness was made all the more easy by the large number of Ale Houses in the village.
Punishment was cruel; the Lock-up held prisoners long enough to be put before the Magistrate, or drunks overnight to sober up. Then followed the options of a fine, or a spell in the Stocks or the Pillory – and this was for the most petty of offences. More serious crime such as stealing or assault would see the prisoner sent to Horsley where there stood a large prison known as the House of Correction. Hard Labour was inflicted by 20 minute spells on the massive treadmill, that prisoners took in turn a dozen or so at a time, for up to 16 hours a day.
Those who were sent to the Court of Assize, or the Court of Quarter Session faced severe sentences, where death by hanging was common. Others; men, women and children, were transported by the Navy to Australasia for periods of seven years or life. Many died in horrendous conditions, held like slaves, during the crossing. None returned.
The lock-up was restored to its current good condition in 1998, with Heritage Lottery funding, and the restoration was marked by a specially written Mummers Play, performed in the road in front of it
(a photo of which is on display in The Bear)".

Last Updated ( Friday, 05 October 2007 ).



A cottage at 162 High Street, Bitton, BS30 6LB, formerly Bath Road,
bears the title 'The Old Lock-up'.
(Google street view)

OS Grid Reference: ST6820369570
OS Grid Coordinates: 368203, 169570
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4242, -2.4587

Prior to 1834 this was the site of a 'Poorhouse' and 'Pin Factory' and the two adjoining cottages were the house of the village constable and the village lock-up. (154-162 Bath Road).

The site was Grade 11 listed 15.7.1981 (No.28485) and described as :

C18. Two storeys, vernacular row in mixed lias and pennant-stone rubble.
Two cottages with single pitched pantile roofs, rest with mansards. Two
windows per cottage, 2-light casements with plain chamfered stone mullions
(long mullions on ground floor), thin cornices over ground floor windows
of 1st 2 cottages, continuous weathered string over remaining 3 plain
chamfered door openings. Features appear restored, the windows of Nos
158 and 162 are modern casements.
Said to have been built as late as 1767. The mansard roofed cottages were
a poor house and pin factory. The 2 cottages to east were once the village
constable's house and lock-up.
Listing NGR: ST6820369570

Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.


The lock-up  at Cirencester is now situated in the grounds of the Cotswold District Council Offices in Trinity Road, GL7 1RP, in buildings which formed part of the former town workhouse. There is public access and a key to the lock-up, together with an information booklet can be obtained from the main office.  The lock-up has two cells with vaulted roofs and wooden benches. It dates to 1804 and was originally built in Goucester Street by a local builder at the cost of some £60. Eventually It fell into disuse and in 1837 it was moved, stone for stone, to it's present site where it was used as a 'refractory ward' by the workhouse. Now fully restored.


OS Grid Reference: SP0239001466
OS Grid Coordinates: 402390, 201466
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7119, -1.9668

Photo's by Roy Pledger

It was Grade 11 listed 23.7.1971 (No.365459). It is described as :

Lock-up. C18. Limestone ashlar; limestone ashlar centreless vaulted roof. Rectangular plan. Two C20 plank doors in plain reveals to N facing long side; small window with wrought iron grille with chamfered reveal to each short side. Shallow plinth. INTERIOR not Inspected; said to be divided into 2 cells with later doors. Lock-up originally sited in Gloucester Street, moved to present site on erection of workhouse, now Cotswold District Council offices, in 1837.
Listing NGR: SP0239001466

 Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.
The two cells both have vaulted roofs and wooden benches.

A brochure about the lock-up is available at the Council Offices :

I am grateful to Cotswold District Council for this information.


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