St Mary Bourne Revisited


Crime and Punishment in St. Mary Bourne


The stocks and whipping postThe stocks and whipping post were sited between the bridge and Henry Poore's garden fence in the Summerhaugh (Summerhaugh cottage) used to secure the hands of the offender while being flogged.

The stocks were used as an ale house appendage to check brawling and drunkenness and for which purpose it was greatly in requisition during and after the time of the revel.

I was informed by an aged inhabitant some forty years ago that in his younger days he had often witnessed its employment and that "during feast times human legs were commonly to be seen protruding from the holes on both sides of the post ".

The stocks were removed from the village about the year 1850 and believed to have been used for firewood, the last person to be held in them was old John May who for many years had been the parish clerk but was dismissed for intemperance . Other stocks were sited around the parish at Swampton they adorned the green, near were the village school formally stood, at Stoke near to the blacksmiths shop, at Eggbury erected alongside the pond as filling the place of a ducking chair.

The Tumbrel or Ducking stool was in vogue for those who trespassed against the excise such as millers, bakers, and those who sold bad ale.


Ducking StoolMr. S. Shaw once saw a baker drawn through the town of Andover on a hurdle for selling bread of short weight.

Another instrument of punishment of a more unusual character, a Brank, or Scold's-Bridle was discovered in the Upper Test Valley in 1864; and if we may judge from the freshness of the leather cheek-bands connecting the iron hoops at the sides, it must have been used as late as at the end of the eighteenth century. It was found at Vernham, among some old iron, by Mr. Davis (Sen.), a blacksmith living in that village who presented it to me. The implement, which may now be seen in the Reading Free museum, side by side with a Brank which was preserved in the prison at Reading, and which had been used for a similar purpose, is of unusual character, and differs in many particulars from all others that I have had an opportunity of inspecting. It is a helmet composed of open ironwork, formed so as to encase the head down to a level with the neck. The top of the helmet is composed of two bands of stout hoop-iron, which pass from behind forwards over the head and down in front of the face to immediately opposite the mouth, where they terminate in a strong loop a tongue-plate, or gag, is made to slide backwards into the mouth, and pressing on the tongue restrains it from being used. It is chiefly in the sliding tongue-plate that this instrument differs from other bridles, the gag being usually fixed to the face piece. This Brank has, further a kindBrank or Scolds Bridle of stirrup attached to the tongue plate for the reception of a strap or rein, by which the wretched gagged creature was led about amidst the cries of a mocking crowd. The base of the stirrup is composed of two bars, one fixing the stirrup to the tongue-plate, while the other is made to act as a lever to the gag, and thus furnished the conductor with considerable liberty in inflicting punishment to the mouth. In addition to the removable tongue- plate this instrument differs from other branks in its mode of application; there being no hinges or openings at the back of the helmet it must have been forced down on the head from the vertex. Although these rude appliances for correcting scolding women are sufficiently common in municipal towns, I am not aware that in any instance a specimen has been found in a village; or that there are any parochial records of the use of such an implement in the villages. (Dr. Joseph Stevens)


(Kevin Holdway)