“Of members ye tonge is worst or best,
An yll tonge oft doth breed unrest.”
Used as a punishment for ‘scolds and shrewish women’. The woman was secured within the chair, the chair was hoisted by means of a beam set next to the river, and unceremoniously dropped into the river. After a length of time, the chair was raised and depending on the ‘shrewishness’ of the woman, may have been dropped again and again. Although mainly used as a means of punishment, this process resulted in its fair share of deaths by drowning.
Some of these were permanently housed beneath a bridge and could be dropped via a pulley system. Still others were used inside the village well, which doesn’t say much for the villagers’ ideas of cleanliness.
Trivia & Comment
The ‘dunk tank’ found at numerous fundraisers operates similarly to the ducking stool, although there is no evidence that it is a descendant.