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Castle Cary Round House, Somerset

The Castle Cary Round House in Somerset stands as a unique and historically significant structure, offering a glimpse into the region’s past and serving as a focal point for visitors and locals alike.

Constructed in 1779, this Grade 2 listed building served as a lock-up for the town’s drunks and criminals awaiting judgment before the district judge. Its circular design, made of Lias stone blocks and featuring a distinctive domed roof, sets it apart as one of the few surviving examples of a circular lock-up in Britain.

Lock-ups, also known as round houses, blind houses, or clinks, were common in medieval times as temporary holding places for offenders awaiting trial. Most were small, windowless structures with minimal ventilation, often built with purposeful simplicity to serve their function.

The Castle Cary Round House is particularly noteworthy for its completely circular shape and distinctive architecture. Despite its small size, it holds historical significance as a rare example of its class, showcasing the evolution of law enforcement practices over the centuries.

While lock-ups fell out of use with the establishment of proper police stations after the County Police Act of 1839, the Castle Cary Round House has been preserved and maintained over the years. Eventually given to the town by the lord of the manor, it now serves as a quirky curiosity for visitors, with the keys available for those curious about its history.

In a surprising twist, the Round House has recently been licensed as a wedding venue, offering couples a unique and intimate setting for their special day. With just enough space for a bride, groom, and registrar, it adds a touch of humor and dramatic irony to wedding ceremonies, reflecting the building’s storied past.

Beyond its historical significance, Castle Cary itself is a charming market town nestled in the South Somerset countryside. With its attractive historic buildings, bustling market days, and quaint shops and eateries, it offers visitors a warm and welcoming atmosphere ideal for a relaxing country break or a leisurely stroll through its picturesque streets.

Overall, the Castle Cary Round House stands as a testament to Somerset’s rich heritage and a reminder of the region’s storied past, inviting visitors to explore its history and charm.

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