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Village Lock-ups

  Village Lock-up, Shrewton, Wilts
  Along with village stocks, whipping posts and pillories these are examples of how crime and punishment were dealt with in times past.

  Village lock-ups were used to house criminals overnight before being taken before the magistrates in the nearest town. Often used for drunkards and poachers, the interior was often sparse with maybe a drain and possibly a bench on which to lie down. The exterior by contrast was often quite ornate as that was the face presented to the public at large.

  A variety of names were used for these structures including cage, blind house (because they often had no window), round house or guard house. Examples take a number of forms from simple rectangular or square buildings to round, hexagonal or even octagonal structures. In some communities there were even double celled examples.

  Prior to the introduction of these small prisons the Parish Constable, an elected member of the community, would have to house the prisoner overnight in his own home before taking him before the local magistrate next day. The introduction of a police force and police stations finally made these building redundant although many remain and some have been put to new uses such as bus shelters or small museums.

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