“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Wheatley Pyramid

The pyramidal structure pictured below can be found in the Oxfordshire village of Wheatley at the junctions of Church Road and Holloway Road. The pyramid is built from locally quarried limestone and is about 1.8m square at the base and around 2.5m high. The only visible opening in the structure is a sturdy wooden door in the front that is secured by a padlock.   The pyramid was built in 1834 and is not some oddly located mausoleum, but is instead the old village lock-up.

In the 19th Century most villages had lock-ups which enabled local criminals to be detained for short periods prior to them being taken away to the nearby court to be dealt with. Village lock-ups were routinely used until around 1839, after which each county was allowed to create local paid police forces bringing with them police stations and holding cells. This creation of local police forces led to the decline and neglect of these unique structures. A number of village lock-ups still survive however and can often be found hidden in plain sight.

Wheatley lock-up.







Here are two more less impressive examples of lock-ups, the first is in Lyme Regis in Dorset and can be found in what is today the Guild Hall. The second is in Devizes in Wiltshire and is hidden at the rear of the Town Hall.

Lyme Regis, Dorset

Lyme Regis Guild Hall, the site of the old lock-up.

The entrance to the old lock-up.


Devizes, Wiltshire


The old lock-up, hidden at the rear of the town hall. 




So keep an eye out for local lock-ups hidden in plain sight! And I will post more as I find them.

Pictures: Oxfordshire (April 2015), Dorset (September 2013) and Wiltshire (August 2014).

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