Wednesday, 26 June 2013

ESSEX. Lock-ups at Bradwell on Sea, Braintree and Canewdon.

Eleven existing lock-ups have been located in Essex, five of which are timber buildings.
I am extremely grateful to Mike Bardell from Braintree & Bocking Civic Society for his constant supply of photographs and information.

The lock-up at Bradwell-on-Sea is situated in the south east corner of the churchyard in
Eastend Road, CM0 7PW and it dates to 1817. An interesting feature of this lock-up is the pillory/stocks fashioned into the door frame. It is said that six people could be detained inside this little building and another five could be attached to the pillory, which includes one at a suitable level for a child.


OS Grid Reference: TM0045806848
OS Grid Coordinates: 600458, 206848
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7245, 0.9010

Photo by Barry Samuel with expressed permission

This photograph is the copyright © of Barry Samuels unless stated otherwise
I am grateful to Barry Samuels (The Unofficial Guide to Great Britain)  for allowing me to copy his photograph.
It was Grade 11 listed 10.1.1953 (No.119201) and described as :
Lock-up. C18. Red brick. Pointed hipped red tiled roof with red ridge tiles.
Dentilled eaves cornice. The heavy 3 board door with iron louvre of 12 vertical
slits. Attached vertically to left door jamb are stocks/whipping post with 4
semi-circular wooden grooves and 3 matching and locking iron grooves, lock at
base, to right of door are 5 grooves with no locking device. RCHM 7.
Listing NGR: TM0045606848
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence: PSI Click-use licence number C2008002006
tells us :
"The lock up at Bradwell-on-Sea was built in 1817 by Samuel Horne at the cost of £3 10 shillings 9 pence and the pillory added to in 1823 by attachment of stocks to the outside. When the Constable had a busy time six prisoners could be accommodated inside the cage and up to 5 people attached to the pillory to become objects of pity or derision to passers by. One ring on the pillory is very low making it suitable for use with small children.
Serious cases were kept in the lock up and then taken to the assizes by the Constable.
The Parish Constables faced a difficult and dangerous job as is evidenced by the case of Peter Jerome who was a gentleman of Woodham Mortimer who attacked a Parish Constable with his dagger drawing blood for which offence she received a fine of six shillings and eight pence".
These two photo's by Ann Williams with expressed permission.
I am grateful to Ann Williams (
for sending me these two photographs.

The lock-up at Braintree, known as The Cage, is situated in Gant Hill off New Street, CM7 1ER and dates to c1840. It has two cells and the door is probably from an earlier building.


OS Grid Reference: TL7570722963
OS Grid Coordinates: 575707, 222963
Latitude/Longitude: 51.8776, 0.5512

All photo's by Mike Bardell with expressed permission

It was Grade 11 listed 21.4.1977 (No.113815) and described as :

Circa 1840. Small one storey red brick lean to structure with flagstone ceiling
Plank door studdes with large nails. Interior has brick built seat along
walls. It apparently remained in use for its original purpose until about
1875 when it became a ammunition store for the 12th Essex Volunteer Rifles.
Listing NGR: TL7570722963
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence: PSI Click-use licence number C2008002006


Inside showing and wall graffiti.

in its
social and historic setting
The history of human disorder is as old as the human race as any number of Biblical and other sources show (see page eight). By the early 17th century the principal inhabitants of Braintree, doubtless mindful of the cost of sending offenders to gaol at Chelmsford or Coggeshall, successfully petitioned Quarter Sessions for a house of correction to be incorporated within the parish workhouse (now the site of Tesco supermarket in the Market Place). “Drunkness and idlenes” were clearly an affront to the “Reformation of Manners” which was driven by the convergence of Protestant zeal, economic and social pressures, and cultural change. That the poor might concentrate their social life in the alehouse was unsurprising since the other venue for meeting and conviviality, the church, had been denuded of much of its festive culture, guilds and fraternities by the reformers. Alongside the house of correction stood the stocks where public humiliation, as much as incarceration and physical discomfort, would be brought to bear on recalcitrant townspeople. These were only removed in 1862 although their use was greatly diminished by that date.
Drunkenness associated with market days and the town’s October Fair had been an irritant to the “better sort” for centuries and it must have been to their astonishment when in 1830, the Government yielded to the free trade lobby and carried the Beer Act. The beer trade, it was felt, would benefit from the unfettered operation of market forces – if the monopoly of licensed houses could be breached, competition would be increased and demand boosted. Further, liberal Whigs resentful of unrepresentative bodies like magistrates, who could deprive the worker of his beer and the publican of his livelihood, felt that liberty was to be prized above the problem of drunkenness and social disorder. Beer too, it was argued, had nutritional value and its more ready availability would suppress the sale of gin, a drink with none.
The Beer Act, 1830 allowed any person whose name was on the rate book to open his house for the sale of beer provided he obtained a two guinea excise permit. Character no longer came into the equation and a person legitimately refused a licence by an honest magistrate could set up shop and attempt to separate the worker from his hard earned wages. Over thirty such premises came into being in Braintree with yet more in Bocking.
The worst fears of the moralists soon appeared to be fulfilled – drunkenness, late hours, noise, disorder, music, dancing, gambling and petty crime all increased. Whether this was directly attributable to beer consumption or by publicans pushing the sale of gin (forbidden to be sold in beerhouses) is unclear, the real sin of the Beer Act was to place the control of popular leisure in the hands of lowly beerhouse keepers and beyond the jurisdiction of magistrates. Power would be returned to them in 1869 but by then the need for every parish to provide overnight accommodation – a lock-up or cage – for the restraint of the drunk and disorderly had become law. The Beer Act too must have been one of the key factors in the establishment of proper police forces. Braintree had a proto-constabulary of part time watchmen in 1833, one of the first in Essex, as a development of the parish constable system ahead of the County Constabulary which was formed in 1840.
The Braintree Cage is shown, but not named, on the 1878 Ordnance Survey, scale 1:500, and was approached from Hilly Gant which linked New Street with St Michael’s Lane (see map, note scale reduced). Today it can be seen easily from New Street as the buildings which formerly obscured it have been demolished. It adjoined the garden of the noted clockmaker Jeremiah Wing, “A citizen of credit and renown”, and, so his ears might not be assailed by songs of ribald mirth, or his eyes offended in any way, the cage was built with its high side facing his garden. The site, given as ¼ pole (6.3 square metres) in the Tithe Award, c1840 was part of a cottage garden and purchased by the Braintree Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor for £30, a considerable sum, on 17 January 1840. Significantly the vendor was Samuel Tunbridge a Braintree brewer who owned the nearby Green Man public house (marked with the letters “GM” on map) and whose landlord in 1839 was Samual Piggin junior, named on the Tithe Award as one of the parish trustees!
New Street was notorious in those days containing no less than four pubs – The White Horse, Three Tuns, George and Green Man. The latter three were known colloquially as “Little Hell”, “Great Hell” and “Damnation” which gives some indication of their reputations. A favourite game played in all three was one in which the participant spun around on the seat of his trousers on the well sanded floor – a novel form of cocktail shaker –the winner was he who spun furthest! In August 1859 Braintree Petty Sessions had cause to suspend the Green Man’s licence for six weeks; two years later Mrs Snow, landlady at the Three Tuns was “cautioned as to the future”. Ten years on Mrs Snow was described as a “perky little woman quite competent to hold her own with boisterous agriculturalists”. She may have benefited personally from legal control but clearly her clientele were still prone to excess – and presumably endured a night in the cage as an occupational hazard! To what were they sent for sobering-up?
Construction is of red clay brick probably of local manufacture, laid in English bond, under a lean-to slated roof; overall size is 16 feet by 6 feet (4.9 metres by 1.8 metres). Internally it is divided into two cells each with a single iron grid daylight and ventilation opening under the eaves of 9 inches by 10½ inches (230mm by 270       mm). The oak and iron studded outer door pre-dates the building by as much as 200 years and is reputed to have been removed from the earlier watchouse or lock-up in the Old Workhouse; the inner cell door has long since disappeared. A timber seat or sleeping platform ran the length of the left hand side wall and there is a 2 inch (50mm) thick tooled flagstone ceiling to deny vertical escape; headroom is 6 feet 1½ inches (1.87 metres). Internally the walls have been plastered up to a wooden dado rail set at a height of 3 feet  (920 mm). The floor today is roughly screeded, probably over brick. Construction costs and legal fees amounted to £45 5s 0d (£45.25p). Most probably the feudal ceremonial of the “livery of seisin” would have been performed at its completion, amid cheers of the populace, by Samuel Tunbridge handing over a loose brick or key to the churchwardens and overseers followed by hospitable entertainment at the Green Man!
No written account of a night in Braintree cage is extant but from nearby Stock it has been recorded that simple incarceration was sometimes exceeded for important or difficult prisoners. In their case handcuffs or a chain fixed to a bolt in the floor and the leg might be applied. Occasionally the prisoner’s clothing was removed leaving him to find comfort in whatever straw or sacking had been provided. The cage at Rayne contains a chimney and fireplace but this is a rarity. One self-pitying inmate at Braintree carved “William Oliver Sept 22 1843 committed” into the brickwork before leaving the cold and discomfort to face a magistrate’s punishment. At least he went on a full stomach - bread, cheese and beer the commonly provided breakfast. His name and the date are clearly visible above the dado on the right hand side of the first cell. Another date of 1843 along with an indecipherable illustration appears above it. On the opposite wall various scratched markings are becoming visible as subsequent coats of whitewash and paint are broken down by the damp conditions.
The year 1843 saw the town’s first police station built in Rayne Road, however the cage, with its convenient town centre position, remained in use until 1875. Thereafter it was let to the 12th Essex Volunteer Rifles for the sum of ten shillings (50p) per annum for use as an ammunition store. “This fine body of men residing in or around Braintree” was the forerunner of the town’s Territorial Army units, their volunteer spirit aroused by threats of invasion by Napoleon III. They paraded at the Corn Exchange in the High Street and conducted live firing at butts erected in Mr Tabor’s meadow at Bovingdon Hall, Bocking. Though not recorded, use as an ammunition store probably ceased in 1911 when the town’s new Drill Hall was opened in Victoria Street.
Braintree Urban District Council purchased the cage in 1899, thereafter its history was one of neglect until on 21 April 1977 it was recognised as a building of historic importance and given Grade II Listed status. In 1982 Braintree and Bocking Civic Society undertook to repair the decayed roof and provide a flagged path to the site. Sadly a plaque erected by the Society at the time, recording a little of the Cage’s history, was stolen soon after it was put up – silent testimony to the fact that anti-social behaviour has not gone away!
For the future this small but socially significant building will remain in the care of its owners Braintree District Council and it, along with all historic buildings in the town, will continue to be a matter of interest and concern to Braintree and Bocking Civic Society.

First published in 2004
Braintree & Bocking Civic Society Ltd
Copyright © Braintree & Bocking Civic Society Ltd
 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
ISBN 0-9547-490-0-6

The above is copied from a leaflet written by Michael Bardell on behalf of the Civic Society and is available from the shop at Braintree District Museum.  I am extremely grateful to Mike for allowing me to copy this information and indeed for the photographs he has sent me.
The lock-up at Canewdon, known as The Cage, is situated in High Street, SS4 3QA
and dates to c1775.
It was repaired in 1914 and restored in 1983


OS Grid Reference: TQ8972694543
OS Grid Coordinates: 589726, 194543
Latitude/Longitude: 51.6177, 0.7391

Photo by Mathew Barker with expressed permission.

© Copyright Matthew Barker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
I am grateful to Mathew Barker for giving me permssion to copy his photograph.
It was Grade 11 listed 27.7.1959 (No.123112) and described as :
Lock-up and stocks. Said to have been erected 1775, repaired 1914. Timber
framed and weatherboarded. Red tiled roof, gabled to road. Small metal grill
to left (west) side. Vertically boarded door, 2 strap hinges with padlock.
Crossed metal straps. Stocks on floor inside. Board above door reads

VillageLock-up and Stocks.
Listing NGR: TQ8972694543

Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence: PSI Click-use licence number C2008002006.

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