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Silsoe Lockup

Silsoe lockup in 1961 [Z291/197/56]
Silsoe lockup in 1961 [Z291/197/56]

The village lockup stands on the south side of Church Road in the drive leading to the modern house Number 15. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in January 1985 as Grade II, of special interest. The department noted that a plaque on door recorded a date of 1796. It is built of coursed ironstone with a cement render over tiled roof. It is octagonal in plan with a conical roof. It was probably built to imprison people misbehaving at the markets and fairs. They would either have been left to sober up or detained until they could be taken before a magistrate if the crime was more serious.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer noted that the Parish Council Lighting Committee rented the building from John George Murray, owner of the Wrest Park Estate for five shillings per annum and described the structure as a "Round stone Prison".

The photograph above has a piece of text stuck to it: "The old pound [sic] at Silsoe, once the old smithy, is now used as a battery house for chickens. It was, in early days used to lock up malefactors" [X291/197/56].

In 1977 Yvonne Nicholls produced a work on lock-ups in the county for Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service. She found the following references to the lock up at Silsoe:

  • Chapel wardens' accounts noted straw for the cage on 11th June 1821 [P54/12/1];
  • Chapel wardens' accounts noted a bill of eighteen guineas by Thomas Stephens for repairing the cage [P54/12/1];
  • A note of 1892 stated that the cage was owned by Lord Cowper, owner of Wrest Park, but that it was under the control of the parish vestry [SJV10].