Christmas at Your Local Lock-up

With the festive period upon us, we thought we would explore the the uses of lock-ups in our database at Christmas time.

The risks of over-indulgence!

Castle Cary Roundhouse cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Chris Andrews –

Pubs supplied an almost endless stream of men and women who had over-indulged in their local. Christmas was probably a busy time for local law enforcers, or for those holding the keys to the village cage. So far we have come across one anecdote of imprisonment in the festive period. One bitter winter’s night during the festive period, an unfortunate prisoner froze to death in the Castle Cary Round House.

Santa in the Cage

Advertisement for Santa in the Cage, on the Shenley Village website (

That’s right! The Cage at Shenley provides the perfect venue for a Santa’s Grotto. Each year, on a Sunday before Christmas, the village hosts a Christmas parade, before Santa and his elves set up shop in the Cage to hear the Christmas wishes of the parish’s youngest members (and possibly the oldest too!). The celebrations continue with mince pies, mulled wine and carols. What a wonderful use of a beautiful historic monument located in the heart of the village.

Click here to see more photos of the event from previous years.

Carols at the Round House

Alton Round House decorated for Christmas (© Alton Handbell Ringers, with kind permission)

In December 2018, the Alton Handbell Ringers were invited to ring carols at the local Round House. A nativity scene was also set up inside the lock-up, and Alton Round House was decorated with lights to stunning effect. A fire in the a brazier kept the audience warm, while mulled wine and soup made them merry. But not too merry, I hope!

Alton Handbell Ringers, leading the carols outside the Round House (© Alton Handbell Ringers, with kind permission)


A Seasonal Lock-up

Elf locked in a phone box! (© Emma Blowers, 2019)

To prove that any type of building or structure can become a lock-up, this unlucky elf has been locked inside a telephone box! He was spotted by Hertfordshire historian and Your Local Lock-Up contributor, Emma Blowers, when she visited Westerham in Kent recently.

Westerham does not yet have an entry in the lock-up database so, if you live in the area and know of any stocks, cells or lock-up in the area, please get in touch. In fact, we have only 32 entries for the whole of Kent and there must be countless more out there we know nothing about. Can you provide us with details of any more?

We’d also love to hear from you if you’ve spotted any other unusual lock-ups, or if can imagine what crime Mr Elf may have been arrested for!

Christmas at Your Local Lock-up

Is your local lock-up used for festive celebrations? We’d love to hear about it! Please get in touch with your stories and pictures. From nativity scenes and grottoes, to carol singing and mince pies, to fun festive lighting displays, we want to explore how communities make use of these important historical monuments.

If the stories above have inspired you or your local community to make use of the local lock-up for festivals and celebrations, please do let us know. Get in touch, or provide feedback through our user survey. Feedback helps us to improve the resource and provide content that is interesting and useful.

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