Ducking Stool
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Gallows And Ducking Stool In 1205

A document of this date, printed in the "Kalendar of Abbot Samson", the abbot of the great abbey in Bury St. Edmunds who then had jurisdiction over the greater part of West Suffolk, shows clearly that there were then two separate landowners in Worlington and that they reached a joint agreement with the abbot concerning the rights of punishment, etc. in Worlington. This was a considerable achievement as they thereby gained a good source of income; all fines would go to them and not, as nowadays, to the crown. Here then is the record in full, based on a translation from the original Latin by the late John Munday:

"This is the final agreement, made in the court of St. Edmund, in the 7th year of the reign of King John, before William Hastings, seneschal of St. Edmund, Richard de Gosfield, constable, William de Crettingham, Ainfred de Criketot, Robert de Hornlingsherth, Ralph de Mineres, Gilbert de Stagno, Walter de Tilney, Peter de Broch, Stephen Walensis and many others. Between Samson, abbot of St. Edmund and the convent of the same place, and William de Wichentone and Roger de Scales, concerning liberty of frankpledgesystem whereby the men of an area were divided into groups or "tithings" with a head man who was responsible for their good behaviour and, in particular, for their continued presence; if a man absconded then the tithing had to pay a fine at the next "view of frankpledge" and gallows and ducking stool. Namely that the said abbot and convent concede to the said William and Roger and their heirs (the right) to have a gallows in the vill of Worlington and the jurisdiction of taking thieves amongst their own men during the view of frankpledge by the bailiff of the lord abbot. And if it shall happen that they shall take a thief who is a stranger during the said view, they shall hand over the man freed with his chattels to the bailiffs of the lord abbot within three days after the bailiff or the lord shall have knowledge that he has been taken. So that the rights in this shall be exercised, they shall agree also between themselves that, at the summons of the lord abbot's bailiff, the men of the said William and Roger and their heirs shall come to the said vill for the renewal of frankpledge. And the bailiff shall receive his ancient customary dues and the pence which are called "borhbenni". And if any profit from pleas shall accrue at the same renewal, the bailiff of the lord abbot shall divide it with the said William and Roger and their heirs. The lord abbot and the said convent also concede to the said William and Roger and their heirs the right to have a ducking stool and jurisdiction over transgressors of the assize of bread and ale in the same vill during the view by the bailiff of the lord. And for this concession, liberty, and charter of confirmation, the said William and Roger have become men of the abbot and they and their heirs will give, upon the altar of St. Edmund, each year on St. Edmund's day, on pound of frankincense in perpetuity."

It has been suggested that it could be fun to reclaim our right to have a ducking stool but very little interest has been shown in the idea of restoring the local gallows.

 Colin Dring 1979
 

A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac