Aldbury Stocks and Whipping Post – Aldbury, England - Atlas Obscura

Aldbury Stocks and Whipping Post

A relic of medieval punishment marks the center of this quintessential English village. 


Aldbury in Hertfordshire is one of the most picture-perfect villages in England, with 17th-century traditional-style houses clustered around a quaint duck pond. Right in the middle of this charming setting, you will also find a conspicuous reminder of a darker past.

Next to the pond in the town center are the village’s original stocks and a whipping post, which date to the late Middle Ages and were once used for public punishment and humiliation. The stocks were used for petty crimes like blasphemy and swearing, while more serious crimes, like not attending church or theft, were more often punished with a public whipping at the Pillory post.

After the stocks, the accused would have their hands and head trapped between two boards for a set period of time, while the public was encouraged to abuse the prisoner further by beating them, throwing stones or fruit, or humiliating them by emptying chamber pots over their heads. This cruel tradition is thought to be the origins of the term ”laughing stock.”

The last prisoner was punished at the Aldbury stocks in 1835, a village man whose crime was public drunkenness.

Know Before You Go

Located on the south side of the Aldbury village pond, near the intersection of Station Road and Trooper Road.

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November 15, 2018

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