East Burnham animal pound


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013960

Date first listed: 22-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of East Burnham animal pound
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Buckinghamshire

District: South Bucks (District Authority)

Parish: Burnham

County: Buckinghamshire

District: South Bucks (District Authority)

Parish: Farnham Royal

National Grid Reference: SU 95523 83925


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The term animal pound is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word `pund' meaning enclosure, and is used to describe stock-proof areas for confining stray or illegally pastured stock and legally-kept animals rounded up at certain times of the year from areas of common grazing. The earliest documentary references to pounds date from the 12th century, and they continued to be constructed and used throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods. Most surviving examples are likely to be less than three centuries old, and most will have fallen into disuse in the late 19th or early 20th century. Animal pounds are usually located in villages or towns though some lie in more open locations, particularly on the edge of old woodlands and commons. Construction methods vary according to the availability of building materials: stone, brick, fencing, iron railings and earthworks being used to enclose areas ranging from 4m by 6m to over 0.5ha. The walls are normally about 1.5m high, although greater heights are not uncommon as attempts to prevent poundbreach. In addition to stock control, animals were sometimes taken as a `distress' (seizure of property in lieu of debt or to enforce payment) and kept under the care of the pinder or hayward until redeemed. Pounds are usually unroofed and have a single entrance, although some have additional low entrances to allow the passage of sheep and pigs while retaining larger stock. Other features include rudimentary shelters for the pound-keeper, laid floors, drainage channels, troughs and internal partitions to separate the beasts. Animal pounds are widely disturbed throughout England, with particular concentrations in the west and Midlands. About 250 examples are known to survive in fair condition, with perhaps another 150 examples recorded either as remains, or from documentary evidence alone. Pounds illustrate a specialised aspect of past social organisation and animal husbandry, and reflect the use and former appearance of the surrounding landscape. All examples surviving in good condition, particularly those supported by historical evidence for ownership and function, are considered worthy of protection.

The East Burnham animal pound now stands as a well preserved and well maintained monument in the landscape. Although large sections of the east wall and most of the south wall have been replaced, the new work meticulously matches the original brickwork, and allows a clear picture of the monument as originally constructed. The interior of the pound remains undisturbed, allowing the preservation of any original features (such as made surfaces or drainage systems) or artefacts buried beneath the present surface, as well as any evidence for earlier structures or land use on the same site. The association between the monument and the ancient woodland and commons of Burnham Beeches is of particular interest, reflecting the management of the woodland stock, and providing a graphic illustration of part of the rural ecomony practised by local society in the post-medieval period.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The East Burnham animal pound stands on the east side of Crown Lane, some 40m to the south east of the Crown Inn, and 600m from the southern part of Burham Beeches known as East Burnham Common. The pound is a Grade II Listed Building.

The rectangular walled enclosure is aligned with the road and measures c.8.5m by 5m. The walls are built in red brick and stand to the original full height of c.1.5m; varying between 0.22m and 0.35m in width depending on the thickness of the revetment added below the top two or three courses on the eastern sides of the two long walls, and on both sides of the northern wall. There is a single, narrow entrance near the southern end of the west wall containing a modern wooden gate, which is not included in the scheduling. The interior ground surface is composed of earth, cinders and slag, overlying a brick lined culvert which passes beneath the centre on the long axis. The entrance to the culvert, a narrow brick archway, remains visible below the south wall where the roadside ditch remains open. The ditch is no longer visible to the north, but is assumed to have been backfilled over a pipe, since the water still flows.

The pound is depicted on a plan of the estate of Henry Sayer dated 1796 and is believed to have been constructed shortly before, as it is not shown on an earlier map of 1788. It lay within the Manor of East Burnham (or Allards), which is first mentioned in the 16th century, although its origins are thought to go back to the 13th century. Allards was amalgamated with Huntercombe Manor before 1714, passing to Captain Henry Sayer by 1786, thence to John Popple in 1810 and to Lady Grenville by 1831. The Manorial Court of the Allards was held annually in the Crown Inn, and the Court Rolls for 1796, 1803, 1810, 1818, 1825 and 1836 show that on each occasion a hayward was appointed for the manor. In addition to keeping the common herd of cattle belonging to the town, the haywards's task was to impound all unmarked cattle, sheep and swine illegally grazing `the commons and waste grounds in the manor'; and to hold them until fines were paid for their release. Declining regulation of the commons and wood-pasture under the ownership of the Grenville family led to the deterioration of the pound in the mid 19th century, when its condition formed the basis of a dispute between Lady Grenville and a local resident, Mrs Grote. In 1879 the greater part of Burnham Beeches was offered for sale by Sir Henry Peet (Lady Grenville's successor) and bought by The Corporation of London, who were empowered by Act of Parliament in 1878 to acquire lands within a 25 mile radius of the capital. The Corporation issued bye-laws for the `regulation of the use of Burnham Beeches' which included clauses forbidding `rescuing or attempting to rescue any animal which is being led, driven or taken to the Manor Pound' or `attempting to take any such animal out of such pound, or injuring such pound or its lock'. Further regulations determined five days each year on which those entitled to send their cattle to depasture in the Beeches had their stock marked. Stock found without markings would then be impounded, together with all `uncommonable animals', and cried in the nearby market town of Beaconsfield if not reclaimed within 14 days. The Corporation, having use for the pound, saw to its repair. It was put in good order in 1930 and remained so until the war when it was damaged by evacuees from London, and possibly by the army which was then using the Beeches as a vehicle depot. It was repaired again in 1943 and a stone plaque was inserted in the roadside wall commemorating the event and urging the public to `appreciate and respect this interesting relick'(sic). These repairs allowed the pound to survive the following 50 years but were somewhat rudimentary, using incompatible mortar and inappropriate replacement bricks. In 1993/4 the Corporation undertook more extensive restoration work, replacing the earlier reconstructed sections with reclaimed and matching bricks, and replacing the wartime bonding with a mortar based on the original mixture. A full structural survey, including photogrammetric recording preceded the restoration, documenting the appearance of the pound before work commenced, and over 60% of the original walling remains largely unaltered.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 27139

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Official Guide to Burnham Beeches, (1993)
Pike, A, A Study of East Burnham Cattle Pound, (1990)
Commemorative plaque on west wall, Corporation of London, (1943)
info from Corporation architect, Clare, J, East Burnham cattle pound, (1995)
info from Keeper of Burnham Beeches, Frater, M, East Burnham Pound, (1995)

End of official listing