20 May, 2024

3. Instruments of Punishment

Dover’s Instruments of Punishment

The third of the original 10 Dover Society Millennium Plaques and was unveiled on Monday 17th April 2000 [the first of two that day]. It is sited on the side of the wall of Barclays Bank in the Market Square and marks where the Town’s Instruments of Punishment were situated.

The days when convicted felons were punished in Dover’s market square were recalled when a commemorative plaque marking the spot was unveiled by our President Brigadier Maurice Atherton.

In earlier times the civil authority erected a pillory, stocks, cage and whipping post in Dover’s Market Square.

Penalties for crimes were much harsher in those days, much more public and often caused great entertainment to the gathered crowd.

A cut-purse, what would now be known as a pickpocket, would have his ear nailed to the pillory and given a knife so that he could cut off his own ear to free himself.

It is recorded that during the reign of Queen Mary a woman innkeeper called Agnes Jarman was caught breaking the law in 1558 by roasting mutton on a religious feast day. She was placed in the stocks, with the mutton around her neck, and left to contemplate the error of her ways.

Alan Lee