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Riding the Stang in Hedon

Riding the StangHEDON was possibly one of the last places in the country to carry out a public punishment known as Riding the Stang.

While other forms of public punishment like the ‘stocks’ and ‘ducking-stool’ are fairly well-known, Riding the Stang is less so.

Riding the Stang seems to be a public humiliation meted out to men accused of wife-beating. A group of villagers would gather together and form a noisy procession banging pots and pans, playing whistles, shouting and generally making a din. They would march to the home of the accused.

The procession would have a leader who would straddle a large pole, bar or ladder (the Stang) carried at shoulder-height and would deliver the public insults. Some accounts say that they would lead the other villagers in insulting rhymes or chants.

Some accounts say that the procession would carry an effigy of the accused (similar to a Guy Fawkes ‘Guy) and after three nights of parading and pandemonium it would be burned in public.

Other accounts say that the alleged offender would then be dragged from his home and forced to straddle the Strang and be carried through the village as a figure of scorn so that everyone was aware of the accused.

Riding the Stang was still carried on in remote parts of the country with one of the last instances – according to historians – having been reported in Hedon in 1889.

We are not sure which version of Riding the Stang was carried out in Hedon – and it seems very unlikely that any records were kept – but it would be interesting to discover if those families who have lived here for generations have any stories handed down about the event?

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