West Wycombe Lock-Up

Overview

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Overview

Alternative Names   Church Loft

Nation   England

County   Buckinghamshire

Location   45-54 High Street,  West Wycombe

Map location   exact or closely approximate

Year opened   late 18th century

Year closed   Unknown

Century of Operation   1700-1799, 1800-1899

Building Type   Lock-Up

Remarks   Building is Grade II* listed but lock-up not referenced in building description. The building has been tree-ring dated to 1465 but lock-up was added much later, likely late 18th century or early 19th century. Built by forming a boarded partition under the arch which allows Church Lane to pass under the building. The Church Loft was built for church affairs and therefore it is not surprising that a lock-up was incorporated into a building that served a community use.

Descriptions

'Late C15. Original timber frame, later red brick nogging, old tiled roof with square wood early C18 bell turret carrying weather vane. 2 storeys, 1st floor oversailing on 5 brackets and moulded beam; ground floor divided by posts and brackets into 3½ bays, left hand bay open and forming a carriage-way to Church Lane. 2 ground floor doors and 6 casements, partly modern and partly restored, all with timber 4 centred pointed arches, 4 leaded 1st floor wood mullion casements, 3 light except on right hand side 2 light, all modern but with some old glass. Interior of 1st floor said to contain open Queen post roof, V.C.H., III, p135; R.C.H.M; p 519. Nos 35 to 37 (consec), The Church Loft, Nos 45 to 54 (consec), Nos 56 to 59 (consec) Steps House, The Plough Inn, The Apple Orchard, The Old Smithy, West Wycombe Estate Office, Rose Cottage and Ness Cottage form a group.'

Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 'The Church Loft, High Street', West Wycombe, LEN1125134

'The building has been tree ring dated to 1465 but the lock up is clearly much later and in fact has been built by forming a boarded partition under the arch which allows Church lane to pass under the building. The horizontal boards are later restorations added when the building was restored by architect W.D. Caroe in 1912. The door, however, and the grille above ( to allow light are original) and the 19 boards have been carefully cut to fit around the door and grille. Alas I’m not aware of any records relating to the use of the lock up but I’d guess it might date from the early 19th c. or perhaps late 18th c. based on the original iron hinges and clasps. The door has several interesting aspects (see following photos) as the two pintles carrying the hinges are set in opposing directions so that the door cannot be lifted off. There are two lockable clasps at the top and centre of the door and I imagine there was probably a third at the bottom but this has been lost in later repairs to the door. As you can see the door has a small rectangular opening, presumably for a small grille or flap, to allow the inhabitants to be seen, however, it has been sealed up with a later piece of wood. The grille above is formed of wrought iron bars within an iron frame and later horizontal bars have been placed across to prevent the grille being pushed out. Regarding internal measurements - I'd guess about 4 feet.'

Gary Marshall, notes on the history and current state of the West Wycombe lock-up (August 2019)

'Church Loft is one of the oldest buildings in the village, having been dated to the early 15th century.... The lower floor seems to have been small medieval shop units, although later records suggest they were used as tenements during the 19th century. The left hand bay is open as a carriageway to Church Lane and contains the Village lock-up and whipping post. '

Wycombe District Council, 'Conservation Area Character Survey West Wycombe', p.10.

Featured Images

  • West Wycombe Village Lock-UpPhoto © Amateur with a Camera (cc-by-nc-nd/2.0)
  • Church Loft, High Street, West Wycombe. Door to the lock-up can be found in the passage way.Photo ©Dave Hitchbourne (cc-by-sa/2.0)
  • External view of the lock-up - door and grill above in passage known as Church Lane. Second door at the end of the passage leads to a staircase providing access to the first floor of the Church Loft.© Gary Marshall (with kind permission)
  • Close up of lock-up door with grille above. The door has several important features. See Gary Marshall's notes in the description for this record.© Gary Marshall (with kind permission)
  • Shackle attached to presumed 'whipping post'. Note - there is no evidence that this was whipping post and I suspect the shackle is broken but had two sides that could but brought together around a culprit’s wrist and then locked together. I suspect this was more for humiliation rather like the stocks. It is centred 1.04m above current ground level. The post is actually one of the main frame timbers of the building and forms the corner of the partition forming the lock up.© Gary Marshall (with kind permission)

Description: West Wycombe Village Lock-Up

Photo by: Photo © Amateur with a Camera (cc-by-nc-nd/2.0)

Description: Church Loft, High Street, West Wycombe. Door to the lock-up can be found in the passage way.

Photo by: Photo ©Dave Hitchbourne (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Description: External view of the lock-up - door and grill above in passage known as Church Lane. Second door at the end of the passage leads to a staircase providing access to the first floor of the Church Loft.

Photo by: © Gary Marshall (with kind permission)

Description: Close up of lock-up door with grille above. The door has several important features. See Gary Marshall's notes in the description for this record.

Photo by: © Gary Marshall (with kind permission)

Description: Shackle attached to presumed 'whipping post'. Note - there is no evidence that this was whipping post and I suspect the shackle is broken but had two sides that could but brought together around a culprit’s wrist and then locked together. I suspect this was more for humiliation rather like the stocks. It is centred 1.04m above current ground level. The post is actually one of the main frame timbers of the building and forms the corner of the partition forming the lock up.

Photo by: © Gary Marshall (with kind permission)

SOURCES

    Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 'The Church Loft, High Street', West Wycombe, LEN1125134

  • https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1125134
  • Gary Marshall, 'West Wycombe Village: An Archaeological Appraisal of the Church Loft and Village Buildings', Records of Buckinghamshire, 55 (2015), pp. 235-260.
  • Wycombe District Council, 'Conservation Area Character Survey West Wycombe'

  • https://www.wycombe.gov.uk/uploads/public/documents/Planning/Conservation-areas-and-listed-buildings/West-Wycombe-conservation-area-character-survey.pdf
  • Roy's Blog, 'BUCKINGHAMSHIRE. Lock-ups at Amersham, Beaconsfield, Great Missenden, Wendover and West Wycombe.' (26 June 2013)

  • http://roys-roy.blogspot.com/2013/06/lock-ups-at-amersham-beaconsfield-great.html

Comments

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