Visitors to the replica ducking stool at Christchurch can now find out more about its history from a new plaque thanks to Christchurch Antiquarian Society and Christchurch Council.
Members of the Antiquarian Society were carrying out archaeological digs in a garden on the other side of the stream from the ducking stool and were able to hear visitors coming to view the stool asking questions about it.
Bev Miller from the Antiquarian Society said: “It was obvious that people were intrigued by the history behind the ducking stool and we wondered if the council realised quite how many visitors came to see it.”
The Antiquarian Society offered to do some research to provide an information plaque and Cllr Gillian Geary asked tourism manager, Ann Simon, if the plaque could be funded from the council’s tourism budget.
The plaque now explains that, contrary to popular belief, it is unlikely that ducking stools were used to identify witches. Rather they were reserved for ‘scolds’ – women found guilty of verbal abuse, brawling or other anti-social behaviour.
Although the mill stream where the chair is now sited is very shallow, it would have been much deeper when the original stool was in use. It is possible that the stream widened to form a pond into which the stool was plunged.
Tourism manager, Ann Simon said: “We’re very grateful to the members of the Antiquarian Society for researching the information which has been written on the plaque. I’m sure visitors to Christchurch will find the history behind the stool fascinating.”