Worthington Round House – Worthington, England - Atlas Obscura

Worthington, England

Worthington Round House

This old village lock-up is known as the "round house," but it is actually octagonal. 

Old village lock-ups in Britain are not rare—about 300 are known in the country, and they tend to occur in clusters. But this one is unusual.

Village lock-ups were used by parish constables to detain miscreants until they could be taken to court, or in the case of drunks, to sober up. They are commonly referred to as “round houses” because they were usually a circular shape. The “round house” at Worthington, however, is octagonal.

The Worthington lock-up is constructed of red brick and has an octagonal brick spire. Lock-ups, of whatever shape, commonly have a roof in the form of a spire or dome made from the same material as the walls to prevent prisoners escaping through a tiled or slate roof.

The odd-shaped structure measures approximately 10 feet across with walls just under 5 feet high. It would have been cramped and poorly ventilated, but they were not intended for comfort. In addition to the door, the round house has a small slit window, which is not original. It may have been inserted in World War II to convert the structure into a pillbox for use by the Home Guard.

The lock-up at Worthington is believed to date from the late 18th century. It is a Grade II listed Building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. A plaque on the door gives details of its function and history. Adjacent to the lock-up, there used to be a pinfold where the parish constable would detain stray cattle and other animals until they were collected by their owners after paying the appropriate fine. This was the case with many village lock-ups. The pinfold was demolished in the 1950s to make way for a number of new houses. 

The earliest recorded British lock-ups date to the 13th century, and most fell out of use when police stations with their own cells were established. In this case the Leicestershire Police Force was established in 1839.

Know Before You Go

Other lock-ups or round houses located in this area of Leicestershire are in Packington, Smisby, Breedon on the Hill and Ticknall.