Black holes, Lock ups & Roundhouses
The Lock up
These were temporary holding places for detaining people whilst they awaited their appointment with the magistrate. Frequent occupants would be the village drunk and the local trouble makers.
A lock-up was, typically, a small building with a single, or sometimes double cell. Most lock-ups feature a dome or spire shaped roof and were built from bricks or large stones. Although they came in a wide variety of designs and look picturesque and quaint today, they were, however, essentially dark, dank holding cells.
Village lock-ups have a variety of names: guard house, watch house, gaol, roundhouse, black hole and most commonly lock up, and there are probably about 200 or so dotted around the country, usually close by the village pub or on the green.
There was of course a black hole on the site of the Town Hall before the present building was erected but the closest, instantly recognisable one is probably the delightful structure at Alfriston. You can find it in Dene car park and it’s built in local flint, with a flat slate roof, and has a door and two windows. Just when it was built and what its original purpose was is open to conjecture, however it may have been a dovecot or possibly a munitions store.