“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Ancient Holford Dog Pound

The unusual structure in the below pictures can be found in the Somerset village of Holford, at the entrance to Alfoxton Park.

The structure is an ancient dog pound, which was originally owned by the St. Albyn family, who were the owners of Alfoxton Park. The plaque on the dog pound provides a little of the history of the structure:

“This ancient dog pound
was given to
the village of Holford in 1982
by the family of the late
John Lancelot Brereton
descendants of the St. Albyns
owners of Alfoxton
since the 15th Century
whose crest appears above”

The dog pound dates from sometime in the 16th to 17th centuries and is a square roof-less structure with walls that are about 3 meters tall. There is an opening at the rear where once a gate or door may have stood. The walls of the dog pound have small slits in them which are angled downwards through the walls. These slits were probably used to enable people on the outside to look down and in to the dog pound and see what was on the floor (e.g. the dogs).

The dog pound was apparently built following the tragic death of the huntsman who used to look after the hunting dogs of the Alfoxton Estate. The story seems to be that back in the day (no exact date given) the meat for the estate’s hunting dogs was stored by being hung in trees. This practice however seems to have had the unfortunate side effect of attracting local stray dogs which in turn would unsettle the estate’s hunting dogs. On the tragic night of the huntsman’s death it is said that he was awoken by the sound of unruly dogs and went to investigate. Unluckily for the huntsman he did not dress in his usual hunting attire and was apparently not recognised by the estate’s hunting dogs who savaged and killed him.

Whilst there does not seem to be any clear evidence to support this story, it is a possible reason why the Alfoxton Estate may have chosen to build the dog pound, to house local stray dogs and prevent them from causing trouble on the estate.

On my visit to the dog pound, a small scattering of used prophylactics made me think that the structure may still to this day be used for a dog-related activity. But the less said about that the better!

The Holford dog pound, at the entrance to Alfoxton Park.

The crest of the St. Albyns family.

Pictures: Somerset (March 2016).

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