Monday, 3 August 2015

Village Stocks

Stocks were a form of punishment by public humiliation.  They were used to punish petty offenders.  The culprit's ankles and sometimes wrists were locked into the wooden stocks and they were left there for passers-by to ridicule them.  In England they were probably first used in Anglo Saxon times but became widespread after a statute was passed in 1351, which made it compulsory for every village to provide and maintain a set. The stocks survived as a form of punishment until the mid 19th century.  Some sets of stocks originally also had whipping posts next to them.  These were vertical posts with iron clamps to hold an offender's wrists while he or she was whipped.

Only a few sets of stocks have survived into the present day in Somerset and most of these are to be found in churchyards, with the rest located mainly on village greens.  Most of the surviving stocks in Somerset are also to be found in the Taunton area.  Why this should be I don't know - were the people in the Taunton area less law abiding than elsewhere?

 Trull Churchyard, Taunton

 Stoke St Gregory Churchyard
 West Monkton Churchyard, Taunton

 Thurloxton Churchyard - half a set of stocks

Creech St Michael Churchyard, Taunton - under a yew tree

 Brushford's stocks are high up on the wall in the church porch

Bicknoller Churchyard at the foot of the Quantock Hills

St Giles Church, Bradford on Tone

The stocks at Faulkland are flanked by 2 enormous standing stones

North Cheriton - outside the entrance to St John the Baptist Church

Martock's stocks are kept behind bars!
Catcott's stocks are mounted on the wall in the church porch
 Under a yew tree in St George's Churchyard, Wembdon
One set of a stocks does look much like another!  

Other sets of stocks can be seen at Wambrook and Templecombe.

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