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Stocks in the museum cabinet
(excuse the reflections)
We have a lovely set of STOCKS albeit a little the worse for wear.
What were Stocks and what were they used for?
They were a timber frame with holes for feet, usually for two persons side by side, and occasionally with holes for hands. Petty offenders were sentenced by the Magistrates to be confined in the stocks for a set period. They were placed on a bench or stools in a sitting position facing forward. It was a form of corporal punishment and public humiliation allowing the public to throw fruit or vegetables, often rotten, even possibly liquid. Throwing other objects was not encouraged but probably did occur especially if a local person had been terribly offended by the prisoner.
Our stocks have a device on the upright post to manacle a prisoner by the wrists for a beating/strapping/whipping as decreed appropriate. You can easily see how the stocks come apart to insert or remove a prisoner’s legs. Note the heavy padlocks in place.
The museum recovered the stocks from Bucks County Museum where they had been in store for many years. Unfortunately the cell door as shown below has not been recovered so far.
These Stocks used to be on The Causeway in Marlow and were last used in 1858.
Their original position was outside The Crown at the top of the High Street. The door in the photograph used to be on the gaol, which was part of what is now The Crown.
A sketch by W Hogarth of Stocks in use. What is the boy up to?
- Objects in Focus 16 -
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