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.