Pound (village)

Pound (village)

The Village pound was a feature of most British medieval villages. A high walled and lockable structure it served several purposes. The most common use was to hold stray sheep, pigs and cattle until they were claimed by the owners, usually for the payment of a fine or levy. The pound could be as small as convert|225|sqft|m2 or as big as half an acre and may be circular or square. Early pounds had just briar hedges but most were built in stone or brick making them more stock-proof.

The village pound was also used as an early form of gaol or lock-up to hold petty criminals such as rustlers, thieves and vagabonds until they could be dealt with by the local sherrif or magistrate. The pound was often associated with the village stocks as a place of public humiliation and punishment.

Most pounds have fallen into decay over the centuries and been dismantled, although some have been preserved in various states of repair. A well preserved pound can be found in Northfield, Birmingham. Alfrick Pound is a village in Worcestershire with a well preserved village pound.

The Sussex County Magazine in 1930 said

"Nearly every village once had its pound for stray cattle, pigs, geese, etc. to be driven into and there kept at the expense of the owner, till such time as he should pay the fine (the amount claimed by the person on whose land they had strayed, for damage done), and the fee to the pound keeper, man or sometimes woman, for feeding and watering the same.
If not claimed in three weeks, the animals were driven to the nearest market and sold, the proceeds going to the impounder and pound-keeper. An ingenious form of receipt was sometimes used. The person who found the animals on his land cut a stick and made notches, one for every beast, and then split the stick down the centre of the notches so that half each notch appeared on each stick; one half he kept, the other he gave to the pound-keeper.
When the owner came to redeem his property and had paid for the damage done, the impounder gave him his half stick. He took this to the pound-keeper, and if the two pieces tallied, it proved he had paid and his beast was freed. Hence the word tally-stick and the pound-keeper being referred to as the tallyman"

See also

*Pinfold another word for a pound from the North of England
*Village lock-up

External links

* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=3677069 photos of examples of village pounds today on geograph]

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