Wednesday 20 July 2022

Crime and punishment

 I saw these two items on separate days when I was away, but they seemed to be asking to be put together in a single post. Yes it's gruesome but it's also our social history and how our society dealt with those who took another life up to the 19th century.

This rather weather worn piece of timber is all that remains of the former Bilstone Gibbet. It doesn't look much now these days sitting quietly off the edge of a lane leading into the Leicestershire village of Bilstone. From 1801 to 1818 it displayed the cadaver of John Massey who, during the fateful day in February 1800, had been drinking all day in the local pub and had then assaulted his wife Lydia walking home. She had fallen into the millpond and drowned. Immediately after his hanging his body was wrapped in chains and hung from a ring on the gibbet post to act as a deterrent to any other would-be murderers.

In the Leicester Guild Hall they have this replica set of gibbet irons which served the same purpose. The originals displayed a bookbinder called James Cook who had murdered a Londoner called John Pass following an argument about money which Cook owed Pass. His body was on display for three days in August 1832 before burial and he was the last criminal to have his remains shown in this way, although public executions continued in the city until 1868.

To this day we still have a Giblets Lane in Horsham, but it started out life as Gibbets Lane. There was a move in 2011 to have it returned to its former name, but the suggestion was not popular so it hasn't happened. 



  1. I wonder if it had the desired effect?

    1. I wonder too. Without forensics, DNA etc I guess that they tried whatever they thought might work. Arilx

  2. Replies
    1. Yes maybe not the best subject matter for accompanying food! Arilx


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