Is This the End for the Stocks?

Bottesford stocks and whipping post fall victim to runaway car

On the morning of Sunday  August 5th, passers-by on their way to fetch the Sunday papers were astonished to find that the familiar view of Bottesford cross with its neighbouring stocks and whipping post had suffered a sudden and serious change. The stocks and whipping post had been demolished.

On Saturday night an out-of-control vehicle flattened the cast-iron road sign, drove through the protecting steel railings and bollards, knocked down the grade 2 listed whipping post and stocks and damaged the steps of the cross, a scheduled ancient monument dating from the fifteenth century.

It is not clear how this accident happened. The S bend in the centre of Bottesford is a danger spot for cars travelling at any speed, but to break through the railings at this point it would appear that the vehicle must have been travelling at right-angles to the road! Fortunately no one was badly injured.

The exact date of the stocks and whipping post is unknown. They probably date from the eighteenth century, though it is almost certain that something similar for the purpose of the public punishment of offenders stood in the market place for several hundred years.

This is not the first time the stocks have suffered. Local legend has it that during the war they were stolen by American servicemen from the nearby airfield, but returned after negotiations and put into storage for the duration.

The stocks were originally sited on the northern side of the cross. Later they were moved  because they were were liable to damage from lorries and delivery vans.  In the 1960s they were erected on the eastern side of the cross for protection, in an area which seems to have been railed off from the road since about 1900. It was assumed that there they would be safe from vehicles.

The stocks have been restored a number of times. Some early photographs show the uprights only in place, but the horizontals seem to have been replaced in the early years of the twentieth century.

Visitors to Bottesford  often had their photographs taken ‘in the stocks’, or pretending to be shackled to the whipping post, where the iron work can still be seen.

In 1973 the stocks and whipping post were repaired by Mr. William Roberts, who said that he used four-hundred year-old wood from the demoltion of Spray Farmhouse, Muston.

Happily, the stocks were insured and the Parish Council has already consulted restoration experts who believe they can be repaired again.

This page was added on 15/08/2012.

Comments about this page

  • As mentioned in your comments regarding the Cross & Stocks, they were evidently knocked over by a reversing services truck from the Normanton aerodrome around 1949-50. They were possibly taken away by the offender, but I’m not sure. I do remember that after the event they were in our garden at the Old Police Station in Queen St for quite some time before being taken by the Leicestershire Council and re furbished and reinstated as mentioned to the eastern side of the cross. As also mentioned the timber was replaced, but evidently most of the iron work was original. Michael Bradshaw South Australia) son of Sgt Arthur Bradshaw 1948-53).

    By Michael Bradshaw (16/08/2012)
  • Thank you very much, Michael, for clarifying the story about the airfield. I’d hate to cause an international incident by blaming the U.S.A.F. unfairly.

    By Editor (17/08/2012)
  • Will the perpetrator of this damage be placed in the newly restored stocks and pelted with rotting vegetables?

    By Richard Bradshaw (30/08/2012)
  • You’re not the first person to have that thought! Ed

    By Neil Fortey (30/08/2012)
  • I am the grandson of William Roberts who repaired the stocks in 1973. I have now repaired the stocks free of charge using some oak that I unearthed in my grandfathers stores, which could well have been from the same oak he used some 40 years ago!

    By Ian Roberts (12/01/2014)
  • Dear Ian, Thanks for this timely reminder that we have not yet updated this page to reflect the fact that the stocks are indeed restored to their former glory. In fact, the page needs to be rewritten to tell the full story of the damage and its repair and renewal, thanks to your craftsmanship, and using the same wood as your grandfather used all those years ago. It’s great to see them back in place, a link with the long history of our village. All thanks to you! Neil Fortey

    By Neil Fortey (12/01/2014)
  • I remember the stocks without the horizontals in the early 50s. I also remember the horizontals being replaced in, probably, 1953 or so. I was at the primary school then, and I remember the smell of the preservative creosote!

    By Tim Doncaster (17/01/2014)
  • Thank you for your reminiscences about the stocks. We are currently planning a project focussing on memories and memorabilia from the period of the 1st World War. Please do let us know if you have any stories that were passed on to you from the generation of villagers who remembered or served in WW1.

    By David Middleton (17/01/2014)

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