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Wootton Pound

The pound shown on a map of 1901
The pound shown on a map of 1901

In 1936 Bedfordshire Historical Record Society published Volume III of its Survey of Ancient Buildings series. This volume contained a survey of pounds in the county by J. Steele Elliott. A pound was, as the name suggests, a place for impounded goods. These might be animals which were caught straying or had been grazed in the wrong place, or goods seized for non-payment of some debt, fine or agreement. The animals or goods would be held in the pound until the owner redeemed them by paying a fine. The pound was maintained by the Lord of the Manor to whom the fines were paid.

By the beginning of the 20th century, with the terminal decline of the manorial system, pounds were an endangered species, hence the need for a publication about them. Steele Elliott wrote of Wootton Pound, quoting a quarter sessions roll of 1741 [QSR1741/134]: “Indictment of John Copland of Wootton, for depasturing sheep and doing damage upon a piece of land called Wood End Green, in the parish of Wootton, being the separate common of the several cottages within the said parish, and indictment of others for rescuing the said sheep when being driven to the pound”.

Steele Elliott went on: “In 1838 the area of the Pound is given in the Enclosure Award [A67] as 3 poles, and as in the ownership of J. F. Buckworth and others. The remains of the Pound, which was a wooden structure, measuring 16 feet square, with 8 inch posts 4 feet high and 3½ inches square top rail set on the diamond, and uprights fixed to the lower angle rails, stands near the cross-roads East of the and opposite the Cock Inn. It was here mapped in 1882. It is said that an earlier site was some 60 yards further east on the same side of the road”. Today the site of the pound is a green space immediately south of School Lane.