The Pinfold at Dringhouses is situated on the east side of Tadcaster Road opposite Royal Chase, which is very close to the The Fox and Roman public house. Pinfolds, also known as pounds, were erected 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. These animals might have broken free from their owners’ enclosures or simply been infringing rights of common grazing. 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 the livestock remained unclaimed it would then be taken to a local market and sold.
Design and materials
Pinfolds were of all shapes and sizes, some only a few yards square and others of up to half an acre (0.2 hectare). Early ones might have been surrounded by hedges but stone or brick became favoured materials as they were stock-proof. The present Dringhouses pinfold, no doubt replacing its predecessor(s), is made from early nineteenth century handmade brick in irregular bond with stone coping. It is of a rectangular shape, approximately 6.7m by 5.7m with rounded corners and has an opening on the north-west side facing the road. The walls are about 1.5 m high and partially 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 for 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. Similarly the pinfold on Middlethorpe Common, south of the Knavesmire, also shown on the 1852 map, has gone too.
Other local pinfolds fell into disuse and became eyesores. The one at nearby Bishopthorpe was, amongst other things, a bus stop, an unofficial litter bin, a store for empty milk crates and a small car park. In 1968 it was demolished but a new one, to commemorate the old, was erected as part of the Bishopthorpe Crossroads Scheme in 2007. Throughout North Yorkshire, pinfolds can still be found: some rebuilt, such as the one at Hutton-le-Hole, others renovated like the one at Raskelf. Pinfolds at Crakehall and Kirkby Malzeard have been turned into ornamental gardens, planted with shrubs and flowers.
Elizabeth A. Smith, Dorothy Reed, Alan Ramsbottom, Discovering Dringhouses (Dringhouses Local History Group, 2010)
Ordnance Survey map, 1852
Ordnance Survey map, 1931
Transcriptions of Dringhouses manorial records by Rev James Raine (1791-1858) in Explore York Libraries and Archives, JAR/1/2/23
Linda Haywood, ‘Cometh the Pynder’ A History of the Bishopthorpe Pinfold. (Bishopthorpe Local History Group, 2007)
National Pounds and Pinfolds Register website: www.poundsandpinfolds.co.uk
Historic England website: www.historicengland.org.uk/listing, entry 1256468
© Dinah Tyszka