Will you wake him? No, not I - for if I do, he’s sure to cry’
This nursery rhyme refers to a common predicament in village life - the problem of
how to deal with stray animals and the damage they caused. The sheep-on-the-loose
may well be in a meadow, munching hay while a rampaging cow could run amok in the
cornfield causing swathes of damage.
A trespassing or stray animal - be it a horse, pig, cow or goose - was rounded-up
and taken to the village pound by the local constable (aka ‘Little Boy Blue’). This
was a small pen (Saxon, ‘pun’ - an enclosure) which was ringed by a fence or wall
(see two road-side examples below). The pound, probably strewn with straw and grain,
was a holding cell for animals. As with Noah’s ark, one wonders how the diverse inmates
of the pound would have interacted.
1) The surviving photographs of the cottage(s) clearly show that they
were once three; yet were joined so that they could be converted into one cottage.
2) The manorial records mention outbuildings associated with he cottages.
The maps of Preston dated 1816 and 1844 show such outbuildings but not around the
cottage at the junction of Back Lane and Crunnells Green.
3) The manorial roll refers to ‘waters’ on the property of the School
Lane property. The 1898 map of Preston show a pond near this property - just to east
beside School Lane.
Were the occupants of the cottage “near the pound” (i.e. Joseph Sharp, Edward Andrew
and William Barker), the pound-keepers of Preston?
We may also deduce the possible location of the pound. It would logically have been
placed beside the road (as many photographs of other village pounds show). Hence,
Preston’s pound was likely here
- conveniently near a water source and approximately 30 metres from the junction
of School Lane and Crunnells Green:
Sources: Temple Dinsley manorial rolls 1788-1805 and 1844 Tithe Map of Hitchin both
To release the detainee, its owner had to pay fees to the pound-keeper and the Lord
of the Manor and a fine for damages - which no doubt resulted in tears for any awakened
boyish custodians of the animal. Any animals not redeemed were taken to market and
sold; the proceeds being kept by the pound-keeper.
A similar procedure today is when a car is illegally parked and the police arrange
for it to be taken to a (com)pound from which the vehicle can be redeemed by the
payment of a fine. Perhaps the feelings of an offending motorist were similar to
those of the impounded animal’s owners. Certainly, it was a common crime for the
village pound to be ‘broken’ ; however it would have been simple to prove the offence
when the owner and his property were discovered together.
Did Preston have a pound? If so, where was it located?
The Temple Dinsley manorial records contain the answers - therein are the only references
I have found to Preston’s pound. Even the approximate location is recorded in the
At a manorial court held on 22 October 1788, a note was made of the sale in 1770
by Edward Single (a carpenter of Fox Hall, Ippollitts) of a cottage at Cranwell Green
(sic) near the poundwhich cottage had been ‘occupied by John Sharp and now Edward
Andrew’. The property included, ‘outbuildings, barns, stables, yards, gardens, orchards,
waters, fences and ditches’ and was purchased by Thomas Arnold of Great Wymondley.
By 1793, the property had been inherited by Thomas’ son, William Arnold, who then
sold it to Henry Mardlin, a yeoman of Kings Walden. Six years later, in 1805, Henry
bought another two cottages (which had, ‘outhouses, buildings, yards, commons and
commodities’) at Cranwell Green. The manorial court went on to record that by 1807
Henry had converted the three cottages into one which was purchased eventually by
Joseph Darton of Temple Dinsley.
There were only two properties to which these transactions could relate - both standing
to the east of Crunnells Green; one near School Lane, the other by Back Lane. There
are several reasons to conclude that it was the cottage at the junction of School
Lane and Crunells Green which featured in the manorial roll.