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Wymeswold's pinfold's nearest 'rivals'
a.k.a. Thirty Years of Pound-Watching
Wymeswold's pound in February 1991.
Wymeswold's pound in September 2000.
Wymeswold's pound in June 2008.
Wymeswold's pound in June 2011.
Wymeswold's pound in July 2023.
The terms 'pinfold' and 'pound' are interchangeable throughout England. There was once one in nearly every village. They are enclosures in which cattle and other animals could be held, either as a penalty for straying and causing damage, or as an indemnity against debt or default. They were in regular use before the eighteenth century when straying cattle and sheep were common in the open fields which had no hedges or fences to control animals. After the Enclosure Awards the new hedges kept livestock under better control.
In medieval times the 'pinder' or 'pounder' who looked after the pinfold and any animals was an important officer of the Manor Court. He gathered strays, impounded them, then presented the owners to the Manor Court to be assessed for fines before collecting any fines so the animals could be released.
Attempts were often made to rescue impounded animals. The rescue however had to be completed before the animals reached the pinfold. Once there they were considered in legal custody. Typical fines in the late eighteenth century were 1d for a horse, 2d for twenty sheep and 4d for a pig. In addition the pinder collected recompense for feeding the animals while impounded.
In 'The Shepherd's Calendar', written in 1827, John Clare describes the arduous life of the Helpston Pinder:
Soon as the darkness waxes grey
Goes round the folds at early morn
To see what stock are in the corn.
There like a fox upon the watch
He in the morning tries to catch
And drive them to the pound for pay
Careless about the Sabbath Day.
Wymeswold's pinfold survives on the north side of Rempstone Road (A6006). Like most surviving pinfolds it is built of brick. Less likely to survive are ones constructed in a post-and-rail style. The posts of the pinfold at East Leake survived until the 1990s; sadly I didn't take a photograph.
Burton on the Wolds also had a post-and-rail pinfold – the last-remaining parts are recorded on the left of this photograph, which looks east towards where the cemetery is now situated.
Scarrington's pinfold in June 2017.
Screveton's pinfold in November 2022.
Plumtree's pinfold in July 2023.
The height of all these is unusually low. More typical of the brick-built pinfolds are those at Scarrington and Screveton (pronounced 'Screeton') in the Vale of Belvoir. After all they needed to retain one or more full-grown cattle. Scarrington's pinfold is about 24 feet across. The one at Screveton is of a similar design but slightly smaller. Both have been sympathetically restored and maintained to a high standard.
Although Wymeswold's pinfold is no older than the nineteenth century probably before that there had been a series of cob-wall or wooden structures. The parish records for 1629 show that 16 shillings was spent on eight quarters of lime and 7s/6d for fetching from Barrow. Cob-walled structures needed regular lime-washing to prevent frost damage and this gives a clue as to the probable construction of the pinfold of this period. Unfortunately we do not know if it was on the site of the surviving one.
By 1991 the lime mortar had seriously deteriorated but the structure was essentially still complete, making it the best-preserved pinfold in Leicestershire. Sadly an ill-advised 'restoration' in the early 1990s badly mutilated the south wall and entrance. There was a further restoration in 2011 then further changes around 2017 associated with the housing development at the southern end of Storkit Lane.
Despite the 1990s mutilation Wymeswold's pinfold has fared better than the one at Prestwold. Prestwold's pinfold may have been a unique example of a pinfold constructed in Swithland slate.
For details of all known pinfolds in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire see