It is likely that from earliest times Hook had a Pinfold. What is certain is that there was one here from the 18th century. After the 1768 Act of Inclosure for Hook became law, the ‘Stockers of Hook’ were formed in 1797 to police rights to grazing on the lanes.
Stray animals would be rounded up by the bye-law men and placed in the pinfold until a fine was paid for their release. It is easy to imagine the bye-law men (also known as pinders) as olden day Traffic Wardens, who once they caught a stray animal or flock of geese wouldn’t let them go until the fine was paid, no matter who owned the beast or how the owner pleaded.
Fines were paid through manorial courts which were held in the Brewers Arms and the Sotheron Arms. The remains of the pinfold are on what is now Church Lane close to where the ‘Welcome To Hook’ sign is located. They were much more extensive in living memory and there is hope that they will in some way be rebuilt.
Recollections of the pinfold as it looked in the early 20th century by a local resident of Hook, O. M. Franklin.
The original was probably brick built and to this was added wall extensions with barred windows and a door. this may have been done in the latter part of the late 18th or early 19th century, not only for the keeping of stray beasts, but more importantly for holding illegally smuggled goods.
These would have been taken from ships trying to avoid the taxation duty that would land along the local river bank to offload their goods. Seized untaxed goods (wool, alcohol, tobacco, even tea, coffee and spices) needed to be stored somewhere secure and the pinfold would have been an ideal solution for this.