York Civic Trust plaques

The Dringhouses Pinfold

Location of plaque: the east side of Tadcaster Road opposite Royal Chase, which is close to the The Fox and Roman pub.

Pinfolds, also known as pounds, were put up to pen straying livestock which might otherwise cause damage to crops and property.

From medieval times onwards nearly every village had a pinfold. Stray cattle, pigs, geese or other domestic livestock would have been driven into it and kept there until claimed by their owners,who usually had to pay a fine (paine) for their release.

The person in charge of the pinfold was known as a pinder. Appointed by the lord of the manor and later by the parish, he would keep the animals confined, feed and water them and collect the money due in fines, both for any damage the animals might have caused and for looking after them. If livestock remained unclaimed it would then be taken to a local market and sold.

Pinfolds were of all shapes and sizes, some only a few yards square and others occupying up to half an acre. Early pinfolds might have been surrounded by hedges but later stone or brick became favoured. The present Dringhouses pinfold, no doubt replacing an earlier one, is made from early nineteenth century handmade brick. It is rectangular with rounded corners and has an opening on the north-west side facing the road. The walls are about five feet high and partly covered by ivy.

Although the pinfold is not named on Samuel Parsons’ map of the Manor of Dringhouses of 1624, a square shape further south on the road may indicate the presence of a pinfold. Certainly manor records from the 1630s and 1640s show that people of the manor were responsible for the repair and upkeep of a common pinfold. By 1852 there was more than one on what is now Tadcaster Road: another pinfold is clearly shown on the Ordnance Survey map of that date, situated next to the herdsman’s cottage garden at the north end of the Knavesmire. This disappeared sometime after 1930. The pinfold on Middlethorpe Common, south of the Knavesmire, also shown on the 1852 map, has also gone.

Stephen Lewis