A two-celled lock-up built in 1804 and moved to its present site in 1837
Lock-Ups began to appear in the later eighteenth century and were used as holding cells for criminals. Most of them were round in shape with a domed roof and were also known as 'round' or 'dumpling' houses. Until the late eighteenth century, the local parish constable had been solely responsible for arresting criminals and vagabonds and he would often need to bring those arrested back to his own house in order to keep them off the streets before they could see the magistrate who would consider their offence.
It is perhaps not surprising then that lock-ups were built throughout Britain from the late eighteenth century and that they remained in use until the growth of rural police forces from the 1830s. There are some 200 lock-ups still surviving in Britain today.
Cirencester Lock-Up was built in 1804-5 on a site in Gloucester Road but was removed and rebuilt on its present site in Trinity Road in 1837. Then, it formed part of the Cirencester Workhouse and it only ceased to be used as a lock-up when the workhouse itself was closed down. It was used as a holding or punishment cell when part of the workhouse, for those who misbehaved inside.
The lock-up consists of a two-cell building. Unusually, it is rectangular in plan but it does have the domed roof that was common to lock-ups. The whole building is made of the famous Cotswold stone.
Nowadays, the restored lock-up is open to the public, who can glean an insight into the system of law and order before an organised police force from viewing the displays and the cells inside.
Access to the building is free of charge and a key is obtainable during normal office hours from the reception of the Council offices in Trinity Road or from the in Park Street. It can be viewed externally at any time.