The 19th century was a time of great change. Advances in science and technology together with social changes brought many benefits, particularly to the burgeoning middle classes. But any period of upheaval generates uncertainty, then as much as now. One manifestation of this was a nostalgia for the past, a longing for bygone times when life was perceived to have been simpler and somehow better. An illusion of course, but the perception was real enough.

The earlier years of Queen Victoria's reign (1837 - 1901) saw an upsurge of interest in the high middle ages, the so-called Age of Chivalry. This was influenced by Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert, who were both fascinated by this period. To the extent that their tombstones depict the royal couple wearing medieval clothes.

As time went by, this idealism degenerated into sentimentality. The past was seen through rose-tinted spectacles, quaint and amusing. A graphic illustration of this is the Victorians' attitude to the stocks, as portrayed in contemporary photos and drawings. A selection of these images is below.

The Victorians' attitude to the stocks was different to our own. In the later 19th century, people tended to view the stocks as something belonging to their parents' generation. A faintly embarrassing reminder of what they perceived as less civilised times. Their parents would have had a different attitude, having seen the stocks in use, or perhaps been obliged to sit in the stocks themselves. The stocks were still regularly used as a punishment until the mid-19th century.

(Click on the pictures to make them larger)

afternoon.jpg "An Afternoon's Entertainment"

need.jpg "A Friend in Need"

onlyfriend.jpg "His Only Friend"

dabbler.jpg From a series of postcards, depicting scenes of old London.

821ct.jpg A whimsical photo, apparently taken in a photographic studio.

boston.jpg A postcard depicting a scene from the town square in Boston, Mass.

7533.jpg A puritan scene.

corby.jpg Corby Poll Fair

coventry.jpg A very old photo, showing the stocks outside Coventry Gaol in 1856.

st.jpg A quaint postcard.

aa599.jpg A late 19th century painting.

bellringers.jpg Church bell ringers in mobile stocks. See "Other Types of Stocks and Pillories" for more information about mobile stocks.

creech1.jpg Posing in Creech churchyard.

creech2.jpg Another photo from Creech churchyard.

hopstock.jpg "Drunk again"

348CA.jpg "Christmas in the stocks"

47619.jpg "Christmas in adversity"

7cc981.jpg "Shame on you all"

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Last modified 3 April 2013.
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