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The story of Arnold’s long-gone Pinfold which housed roaming animals that had been rounded up and would only be handed back for large fees


Arnold was once an agricultural community. Although it did not have many large farms, most people kept a few animals to help make ends meet.

Before the local enclosures act of 1791 Arnold had a large amount of common land on the outskirts of the village. South Field and North Field being two of these very large area of scrub land each over 100acres. The roads and tracks also had large grass verges.

The local villagers were allowed to graze their animals on this land and verges free of charge as long as they were responsible for their animals and other users safety.

Some animals would inevitably stray away from these feeding grounds which for the most part were not fenced or at best, fenced poorly. They say the grass is greener on the other side so the beasts would usually move on to fields sown with new crops or new grass as it was just too tempting.

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If this happened they were rounded up by the local Pinder and placed in the Pinfold.

The Pinder was a parish council official who had the job of collecting stray animals and impounding them until their owners collected them.

The owners had to pay a fine which included the Pinder’s fee and the cost of feeding and watering the animals. This fee would also include any compensation to be paid to the owner of the land onto which the animals had strayed. The animals were released to their owners only on the payment of the  fine. The modern equivalent is perhaps having your car towed away because it was parked in the wrong place and having to pay to get it back from the pound.

St Mary's Arnold
The Pinder was appointed each year at the Annual Easter Vestry Meeting of St Mary’s Church, pictured above

The Pinder was appointed each year at the Annual Easter Vestry Meeting of St Mary’s Church and very often this was a family position passed from one generation to another.

The Hearson family in Arnold, themselves local farmers, held the Pinder post for many years with it passing from father to son.

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The animals that were impounded were kept in the Pinfold.The terms Pinfold and Pound are of Saxon origin “Pundfald” and “Pund ” both meaning an enclosure. There appears to be no difference in the terms Pinfold and Pound except that Pound is more commonly used in the south of England and Pinfold in the North.

The one in Arnold was stone built, simple rectangular enclosure, with high walls and a strong lockable gate. It origins most probably goes back to the original founding of the village in the Iron Age.

The Pinfold was situated where the garden to the left of  the entrance to King George playfields is now to be found. This was opposite the back entrance to the then British School – now the market.  

The main photo above shows the round house, the original farm house and cottage on the site. Part of the pinfold is shown as the wall on the right of the picture.

After the enclosures act there was little common land. North and South Fields both became enclosed and the land was used for other purposes by the new landlords.

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The Pinfold became used less and less. With the introduction of barbed wire as fencing it then became a rare site to view animals with in its walls .It was finally closed in 1888.

The last Pinder was John Hearson who had been appointed in 1886.

After its closure the Pinfold soon became dilapidated  and was used for storage and a dumping ground until being taken over by Jews building and timber contractors. Their offices and main yard were situated round the corner where the electrical wholesalers are now. They used it to store timber at the site. Unfortunately they had a serious fire at the location. The cottage and house were very close to the pinfold and the fire nearly spread to these adjacent houses. After this event, the pinfold as storage was closed.

In some villages these pinfolds, due to their long history and importance to the area, have become listed buildings and retained as part of the heritage. Arnold’s however was demobilised along with the adjoining houses when the Arnot Hill Rd /Gedling roads were widened. There is now no sign of this part of the areas village heritage.

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  1. My mums name is Pinfold. Didn’t know we had one so close to where I live. Interesting read thank you.

  2. Thanks Bob. Lovely and informative article about a part of Arnold’s history i hadn’t known of. Imagining it now, opposite my old school, The British, or Front Street Boys School as no one ever called it! We’d actually get told off for calling it the former!

  3. Yes I knew the origin of our name there was quite a few Pinfolds around Notts some still exist. I had a book on The Pinfolds of Nottinghamshire do you know anything about it? I would like a copy again. I bought it from Sherwood library.

    • It looks like the book you refer to is ‘The Pinfolds of Nottinghamshire: A Gazetteer’ by Philip Lyth (Paperback, 1992). One sold for £10 on eBay recently. The only copy I can find to be bought online is from either Besley’s Books, Abe Books or Alibris for £11


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