Ancient Monuments

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The Round House

A Scheduled Monument in Castle Cary, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0897 / 51°5'22"N

Longitude: -2.5147 / 2°30'52"W

OS Eastings: 364051.175

OS Northings: 132385.472

OS Grid: ST640323

Mapcode National: GBR MV.CLQ7

Mapcode Global: FRA 56M7.N4W

Entry Name: The Round House

Scheduled Date: 16 April 1951

Last Amended: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016741

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32182

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Castle Cary

Built-Up Area: Castle Cary

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a post-medieval lock-up known as The Round House,
situated on Bailey Hill, north west of the Market Place. Its site serves as a
small roundabout in the centre of Castle Cary. The small, perfectly circular
building, which is Listed Grade II, is constructed of Lias stone blocks raised
on a slight plinth, approximately 3m in diameter, 2.5m high with a stone domed
roof approximately 2m high and crowned with a stone ball finial. Entrance into
the building is on the south side through a small studded door set above four
uneven steps. The lock-up is windowless and has two ventilation grilles, one
above the door and the other at the base of the dome on the north side. A
narrow strip of cobbles around its base appears to be contemporary with the
The round house was erected in 1779 and used as a temporary lock-up for
prisoners. It was presented to the Parish Council by Sir Henry Hoare Bart JP
in 1922.
The three plant troughs located around the base of the lock-up are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Lock ups, also known as round houses, blind houses and clinks, are temporary
holding places for offenders being brought before the magistrate. Sometimes a
cell was located in or under a public building, but most lock ups were purpose
built, usually small square, rectangular, octagonal or occasionally circular
stone buildings. Most were windowless with one or two ventilation grilles,
often set under the eaves or into the single door. The earliest recorded lock
up dates from the 13th century, and most fell out of use when police stations
with their own holding facilities were established. Less than 300 lock ups are
currently recorded nationally, mostly grouped in clusters such as in Essex,
West Yorkshire and Derbyshire, with the highest concentrations in Wiltshire
and Somerset. In some counties, such as Hampshire, there are no recorded

The lock-up at Castle Cary, known as the Round House, is a rare example of its
class both in terms of its completely circular shape, being one of
only four recorded circular lock-ups in Somerset, and its distinctive domed
roof. It is very well maintained and provides a focal point for the town in
its prominent position on Bailey Hill.

Source: Historic England

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