Many people do not know of the existence of the Pound as it sits snugly against a comparatively modern house in Bepton Road. Its history is also little known as there are very few references to it prior to the formation of the Town Trust in 1910. The earliest reference found so far is an extract from the Court Rolls which has passed through several hands. It refers to a dwelling in Bepton Road;
“a holding on the South West side of the way leading from Midhurst to Bepton consisting of the moiety of a dwelling house, being one whole Burgage containing five rooms in the tenure of John Carry, Pipemaker with the North part of the garden together with a Turf House before the door of the said house or rooms before mentioned and the East part of the Hog Pen.”
Many towns and villages would have had “pounds” which were built to hold stray animals including pigs.
The first meeting of the Town Trust was on 15th April 1910. This meeting was to record details of the Trustees and work out various issues regarding their responsibilities. It was not until the third meeting on 18th July 1910 that a Schedule of Property was drawn up which included:
“The Parish Pound with wooden Gate and Padlock (No Key).”
No further mention of the Pound was made until February 1912 when it was proposed that Midhurst Rural District Council were contacted and the Pound offered to them to store stone. In February 1915 a valuation was made by the District Valuer who assessed it at £10. The minutes of the meeting on February 1917 details a letter from the Reverend Tatchell (a well known local character) offering to buy the Pound from the Town Trust. This was not accepted.
Another development idea was proposed in 1921. It seems that Midhurst Parish Council wanted Public Conveniences in Midhurst and was asking the Trustees if they would allow either the Pound or the south east portion of the Town Hall to be used. The Trustees agreed to consider the proposal for the Town Hall.
1923 finds the Reverend Tatchell’s desire to build in Bepton Road as he had employed an architect to take measurements in contemplation of the proposed building of a house on the north side of the Pound. It was found at this time that materials were being stored there and the gate post broken. By June 1924 the house had been built and let and it was suggested that the Pound be let at 10/- a year.
There are no more references to the Pound for more than 50 years until November 1975, when the Clerk received letters from Mrs Hennessy, the tenant, regarding giving up the tenancy of the Pound and also from a developer, Algrey Homes, offering to take the property over. The Clerk was asked to write to Algrey Homes for a plan of the development in so far as it affected the Pound. This was part of a large scheme which involved the development of Pretoria Avenue and the widening of Bepton Road allowing a footpath to be made on the western side of the road and necessitating the removal of the small front gardens of Mint Cottage and Pound Cottage.
By 1978 the Pound had been neglected for many years so the Trustees asked the Grammar School if they would like to take over its maintenance and add some paving or seating but this never occurred. In May 1978 it was decided to remove the lock from the pound as by this time it was recognised that it was of historical importance and should be preserved. Mr Lockwood, a local farrier, was to be contacted to make a replica. The following year nothing had progressed and by 1980 no one was looking after the garden. When Pound Cottage was sold, terms were to be agreed for the owner to lease the Pound. The Lock which was supposed to have been stored at the Chichester Museum was then to be stored in the Cowdray Museum. The Clerk was to write to Metal Class Department at the Grammar School to see if they would make a replica. The whereabouts of the padlock then becomes a mystery. There are notes indicating that the lock was passed to the School but then it disappeared.
In 1981 the Pound was repaired and gate re-hung. Pound Cottage had been purchased and the owner was approached to see if they would like to take over the garden. The current owner of Pound Cottage now pays a “peppercorn rent” to have the Pound as a garden and looks after it well.