Castle Cary Round House – Somerset, England - Atlas Obscura

Castle Cary Round House

One of the best-preserved examples of an old town lock-up in the country. 


A popular legend states that the domed roof of this building inspired the shape of the British police helmet. It is one of the few surviving examples of a circular lock-up.

In 1779 at a Vestry Meeting at the Angel Inn, the decision was made that a temporary lockup was needed in the area. The funds of three small charities were appropriated to cover the cost and it was built on Bailey Hill.

The final cost at the time was £23. The Round House has two iron grills for ventilation and was once used to incarcerate miscreants and drunkards. 

Offenders were locked up here until they sobered, or a magistrate was available to deal with them. In 1785 when the Sunday school was established the committee resolved that; “if any children above the age of seven years are found in the streets, breaking the Sabbath, they shall be taken up and locked in the Round House during school hours.”

No records exist to show how many people were locked up in the Round House during its use. It has had other uses over its lifetime, including more recently a licensed wedding venue.

Know Before You Go

Located at Bailey Hill, It can be viewed at any time behind the Market House. Keys for the Round House are kept at the Information Point in The Market House, open weekday mornings.

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January 6, 2023

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