The Village Pound

Leigh’s Own Village Pound

“There is no more ancient institution in our history than the village pound” said Victorian historian, Sir Henry Maine.  There is a mention of one in Ottery St Mary in 1061; and 1267 in Marlborough.  Although often the Lord of the Manor claimed ownership, they were normally on ‘waste’ land owned by him, but used for general grazing.   Some types of pounds were used to put goods or animals in which were seized by a relevant authority to pay debts but the basic use in villages such as Leigh was to gather up (impound) stray animals.  The official who looked after the pound had various names.  Often he was called a pinder* but sometimes he was a sheep-looker or field keeper or a Hayward.  The owners of animals that were impounded were charged a fine – although often they were allowed to feed the animal/s while they were impounded.

The pound in Leigh was outside Oak Cottage on the Green on the north side of the cottage – probably around the ancient oak.  It is shown on the 1841 Tithe Map.  There are no earlier Leigh maps of such a large scale which might mention the pound; and no written mention of a Leigh pound in any literature or articles that have been found.  However, on the basis that a pound was usually on land which was owned by the Lord of the Manor and on common pasture, it seems likely that the pound by Oak Cottage had been there for hundreds of years.

As the village now has its own fenced-in pound, I am expecting to see some of Colin Bastable’s stray sheep and cows there soon.  And, if a pinder is a paid job, I am volunteering.

Chris Rowley (April 2019)


*Pinder/pindar/pindor/Pendor:  derivative from OE gepyndan’ meaning to impound, shut up.  Pinder,an officer of a manor who impounded stray beasts.

[paras 1-2:  from hugely detailed/long article covering up until 1617 only by Jonathan Healy in The Local Historian Jan 2019]