Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Whipping Posts and Ducking Stools

In the Market Place (near where Marks and Spencer’s is now) stood the Corn Cross or as it was more commonly called the Meal Cross, it was a high, elegant building, raised three steps above the surrounding level, and supporting a flat roof upon fourteen square stone pillars. In the centre of the roof was a small cupola, protecting from the weather a large bell, by the sound of which the Corn Market was opened and closed. On the western side of this Corn Cross stood the Pillory, and on the south west corner the Whipping Post.
To the south of the Corn Cross (about where the opening at the end of the M&S building is now) was a horse pond, in which the tanners of the town also washed their skins, also erected here was a Ducking Stool and any unfortunate would be immersed in the murky waters of the pond.
From the horse pond to Dolphin Lane was an open space but in the centre of this piece of ground, securely fixed in the earth, was a heavy metal bull ring to which on high days and holidays the old time Bostonians would tether a bull and bait him to madness with fierce dogs.
On the other side of the Market Place was the Butchery and on its north eastern corner the Stocks were fixed, these were later moved (see below) to Bargate Green.
Another punishment was the Hurry Cart. The wrong-doer was taken around the town attached to this cart and received a portion of his punishment at the door of every alderman, a portion of one of these carts is stated to have remained in the town stores as late as 1795.
As if these things were not enough, in 1670 the Town Gaoler brought in the following list of articles belonging to the gaol:—3 locks and keys for the windows and chimneys, 10 horse-locks, 4 pairs of cross fetters, 2 chains, 3 pairs of handcuffs, a pair of pothooks with two rivets and shackles, 5 pairs of iron fetters and shackles, and a U brand to burn persons in the hand, to this pleasant list of articles another burning iron was added in 1703, and in 1722 a pair of thumb-screws!

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