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24/Nov/2013 – Lichfield's Pinfolds

posted 24 Nov 2013, 06:10 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 24 Nov 2013, 06:15 ]

by Kate Gomez, author of the Lichfield Lore local history blog.

View of pinfold from Stafford Road

Pinfolds were used to impound straying animals, which would be released to their owner on payment of a fine. In the Lichfield Mercury, November 7 1890, the following notice appeared in the ‘Found’ section,

Found straying in this City, on Sunday morning last, and now in the pinfold. Eleven Yearling Beasts, ten of which are red and white colours and one a light roan.

In Lichfield, the maintenance and administration of the pinfolds were the responsibility of the pinners, two officials elected at the annual St George’s Court. One represented St Michael’s parish and the other St Chad’s. Pinfolds stood at various entrances to the city, although their location did change over time. One stood at Greenhill, from the fifteenth century to the early nineteenth century, when it was moved to the junction of Broad Lane and Boley Lane. In June 1896, one of the city pinners, James Smith, a market gardener living at Greenhill was summoned by a farmer from Fulfen whose cows had been impounded at the Boley Pinfold. The farmer accused Mr Smith of charging his farmhand 2s to release his animals, which Mr Smith denied. The pinner for St Chad’s parish, William Round, was called and he stated that he always charged 1s 4d to release stray cattle. The case dismissed, although Mr Smith was warned not to charge more than the legal fee in the future.

Sign on wall of Stafford Road pinfold

The Boley pinfold was demolished sometime between 1955 and 1966 (according to old maps). However, the pinfold at the junction of Beacon Street and the Stafford Rd is still in existence. Originally located near to where Anson Avenue meets Beacon St, the pinfold was moved here in 1809. According to the listed building description, the walls of the structure date to the eighteenth century but were heightened in the nineteenth century. The gate, steps and paving are twentieth century additions as is the information plaque, added when the pinfold was restored in the 1990s, with money from the Conduit Lands Trust.

Unsurprisingly, some owners would try to remove their animals from the pinfold illegally, to avoid paying the fine. According to Mr William Russell’s account of the Manor of Lichfield, appearing in the Mercury on January 26th 1894, this offence of ‘pound breach’ was very common. He includes a bill of the charges claimed by one time pinner John Bancks for the repair of the ‘pindfould’ in Beacon St after one occurrence. Mr Bancks charged 1s 4d for his own two days work whilst masons received 2s for the two days. The pound was also fitted with ‘2 staples for the gate and a clip and a lock, and other ironwork about the gate’ at a cost of 1s 8d. Mr Bancks noted that, “This time I cannot prove who broke it. It is supposed they were ‘souldiers’ who took lock and staples away, and let out a cow of Nevills”. Unfortunately, no date is included.

Rear view from Pinfold Road

Writing about Beacon Street in 1943, City Librarian and local historian, Mr J W Jackson recalled how “the old pinfold still remains, but is rarely, if ever used for its original purpose though in our younger days it frequently contained horses, cattle or sheep which had been caught straying on the road and ‘penned’ by the official pinner old Watty Bevin". Pinfolds may have fallen out of use by the mid-twentieth century but it seems there may have been the odd occasion when they would have come in useful! On the evening of October 18th 1950, a police officer was astonished to see a cow coming towards him as he patrolled Wade St. With assistance, P C Adderley managed to drive the animal to the Smithfield where it was impounded. Its owner, Mr Boston of Brownsfields farm, pleaded guilty to allowing a heifer to stray on the highway and was fined 5 shilling. The following August, PC Hughes was called to Station Rd in Lichfield where he’d received a complaint about a stray black and white cow. After chasing the beast through several Lichfield streets he managed to impound it in the sales yard. Once again the escapee was from Brownsfields Farm. Although the owner blamed local children for opening the gate to his field he was again fined 5s.


Sources:

  1. Lichfield Mercury Archive
  2. Lichfield: Town government, A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield (1990), pp 73-87
  3. www.poundsandpinfolds.co.uk

BSARA's Autumn/2013 newsletter, featuring an abbreviated version of this article is available for download below.

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Andre Hefer,
24 Nov 2013, 06:10