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Birching at Eton

June 24 2005 at 10:53 PM

I read with interest "karen's" post (24/6/2005) which, whether genuine or not, highlighted the shear indecency regarding the manner in which american schoolgirls are paddled in some schools in the south, and the obvious sexual nature of paddling.

Having had a long interest in the history of corporal punishment, I thought I would post some notes on the birching of schoolboys at Eton public school in the 18th and 19th centuries, on which I have recently conducted in
depth research, as this also highlights the indecency of corporal punishment of this type, and draws attention to the indecent exposure involved. This aspect is so often ignored, or swept under the carpet when the subject is written about.

During this period of history boys of the ages of 11 to 18 were regularly "flogged" (i.e.birched) at Eton for any and every offence. As in Karen's post, the most interesting aspect of these floggings is the actual manner in which the floggings were administered, and the position the boy was placed in for flogging.

Eton had several "flogging blocks", which were piecee of furniture upon which the boys were birched. This piece of furniture consisted of a block of wood about 2ft high, in the shape of two steps, the lower one being about 10" from the floor, and the upper one forming the top of the block. When a boy was to be birched, he had to completely remove his trousers and underpants, and mount the block. He did this by kneeling on the lower step, bending forward and resting his belly on the top of the block, and placing his hands flat on the floor on the far side of the block. Once in this position, younger boys would be strapped to hold them firmly in position, with two straps around his calves just below his knees, and another thicker strap around the small of his back, holding his belly firmly against the top of the block, to restrict movement of the boy's bottom during flogging. The knee straps would normally be placed about 18" apart, causing the knees to be spread apart. Older boys were expected to hold this position without being strapped.

Once in this position, the boy's bottom was fully exposed, with the buttocks parted, fully exposing his anal cleft, perineal region and scrotum.

Then the flogging would begin. The birches used at eton were really quite savage instruments. Five feet long (3 feet of handle and 2 feet of "bush")The "bush" end being about12" in diameter. They were well soaked in brine to make the twigs supple and strong before use. The strokes (of which up to five dozen could be given in a single flogging)were delivered with the master's full strenth.

With the victim in the position described above, each stroke of the birch would totally cover every square inch of the boy's bottom, with the lower part of the birch lashing the upper thighs and exposed perineal area on virtually every stroke, and stray twigs lashing into the anal cleft between the splayed buttocks. The perineal region is the area between the anus and scrotum, for those who don't know.

At the end of a severe flogging, the whole of the victim's bottom would be a raw and bloody mass of weals, from the small of his back down to his upper thighs, and every bit of flesh in between, including his anal, perineal and scrotal regions. The boy was being flogged "on his bottom", and I must presume that these areas were considered to part of his "bottom" and therefore fair game. Younger boys (say 11 - 14 year olds) invariably wet (and somtimes soiled) the flogging block at some point during the flogging.

So, there you have it. Birching at Eton as it really was, without the nastier aspects "hushed up" for the sake of decency.

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Birching at Eton

June 27 2005, 1:34 AM 

Interesting - See poem below by victorian etonian A.C Swinburne, in which he describes a typical birching at the school. Note the following verse about half way down:

"Where between his white thighs, something hairy, the body's division reveals - Falls the next stroke, and now Charlie Collingwood's bottom is all over weals" .

This is surely a reference to the birch twigs lashing the boy's exposed perineum and scrotum.

Seventeen years of age, with round limbs, and broad shoulders, tall, rosy and fair,
And all over his forehead and temples, a forest of curly red hair;
Good in the playing fields, good on the water, or in it, this lad:
But at sums, or at themes, or at verses, oh! ain't Charlie Collingwood bad?
Six days out of seven, or five at the least, he's sent up to be stripped;
But it's nuts for the lower boys always, to see Charlie Collingwood whipped;
For the marks of the birch on his bottom are more than the leaves on a tree,
And a bum that has worn so much birch out, as Charlie's, is jolly to see.
When his shirt is turned up, and his breeches, unbuttoned, hang down to his heels,
From the small of his back, to the thick of his thighs is one mass of red weals.
Ted Beauchamp last year began keeping a list of his floggings and he
Says, they come; in a year-and-a-half, to a hundred and sixty and three.
And you see how this morning, in front of the flogging block silent he stands,
And hitches his waistband up slightly, and feels his backside with his hands.
Then he lifts his blue eyes to the face of the Master, nor shrinks at his frown,
Nor at sight of the birch, nor at sound of the sentence of judgment, "Go down."
Not a word, Charlie Collingwood says, not a syllable, piteous or pert;
But goes down with his breeches unbuttoned, and Errington takes up his shirt.
And again we can see his great naked red bottom, round, fleshy, and plump.
And the bystanders look from the Master's red rod, to the schoolboy's red rump:
There are weals over weals, there are stripes upon stripes, there are cuts after cuts,
All across Charlie Collingwood's bottom, and isn't the sight of it nuts?
There, that cut on the fleshiest part of the buttocks, high up on the right,
He got that before supper last evening, oh! isn't his bottom a sight?
And that scar that's just healed, don't you see where the birch cut the flesh?
That's a token of Charlie's last flogging, the rod will soon stamp it afresh.
And this morning you saw he could hardly sit down, or be quiet in Church;
It's a pleasure to see Charlie's bottom, it looks just cut out for the birch.
Now, look out, Master Charlie, it's coming: you won't get off this time, by God!

For your Master's in, oh, such a wax! and he's picked you out, oh, such a rod!
Such a jolly good rod, with the buds on, so stout, and so supple and lithe,
You've been flogged till you're hardened to flogging, but won't the first cut make you
You've been birched till you say you don't care as you used for a birching! Indeed?
Wait a bit, Master Charlie, I'll bet the third cut or the fourth makes you bleed.
Though they say a boy's bottom grows harder with whipping, and times make it
Yet the sturdiest boy's bottom will wince if the Schoolmaster whips it enough.
Aye, the stoutest posteriors will redden, and flinch from the cuts as they come.
If they're flogged half as hard as the Master will flog Charlie Collingwood's bum.
We shall see a real jolly good swishing, as good as a fellow could wish;
Here's a stunning good rod, and a jolly big bottom just under it - Swish!
Oh, by Jove, he's drawn blood at the very first cut! in two places by God!
Aye, and Charlie's red bottom grows redder all over with marks of the rod.
And the pain of the cut makes his burning posteriors quiver and heave.
And he's hiding his face-yes, by Jove, and he's wiping his eyes on his sleeve!
Now; give it him well, Sir, lay into him well, till the pain makes him roar!
Flog him, then, till he stops, and then flog him again, till he bellows once more!
Ah, Charlie, my boy, you don't mind it, eh do you? it's nothing to bear.
Though a small boy may cry for a flogging, that's natural, but Charlie don't care.
That's right, Sir, don't spare him! that cut was a stinger, but Charlie don't mind;
All the rods in the kingdom would only be wasted on Charlie's behind,
At each cut, how the red flesh rises, the red weals tingle and swell!
How he blushes! I told you the Master would flog Charlie Collingwoodwell.
There are long red ridges and furrows, across his great, broad, nether cheeks,
And on both his plump, rosy, round buttocks, the blood stands in drops and in
Well hit, Sir! Well caught! how he drew in his bottom, and flinched from the cut!
At each touch of the birch on his bum, how the smart makes it open and shut!
Well struck, Sir, again, how it made the blood spin! there's a drop on the floor,
Each long, fleshy furrow grows ruddy, and Charlie can bear it no more.
Blood runs from each weal on his bottom, and all Charlie's bottom is wealed
'Twill be many a day ere the scars of this flogging are thoroughly healed.
Now just under the hollow of Charlie's bare back, where the flanks are aslope.
The rod catches and stings him, and now at the point where the downward ways ope;
Round his flanks, now like serpents, the birchen twigs twining bend round as they
And you see on his naked, white belly, red ridges, where all was so white.
Where between his white thighs, something hairy, the body's division reveals.
Falls the next cut, and now Charlie Collingwood's bottom is all over weals.
Not a twig on the rod, but has raised a red ridge on his flesh, not a bud,
But has drawn from his naked and writhing posteriors, a fresh drop of blood.
And the Schoolmaster warms to his work now, as harder and harder he hits,

And picks out the most sensitive places, as though he'd cut Charlie to bits.
"So you'll fidget and whisper in school-time, and make a disturbance in Church?
"Can't sit still, Master Charlie, eh, can't you? Well, what do you think of the birch?
"Oh, it hurts you so, does it, my boy, to sit down, since I flogged you last night?
"It was that made you fidget all church time? Indeed, you can't help it, please God-
"By the help of the birch, Master Charlie, I'll teach you to help it, please God-
"If you don't mend your manners in future, it shan't be for want of a rod.
"You're a big boy, no doubt, to be flogged; the more shame for you, Sir, at your age-
"But as long as you're here, I shall flog you," he lays on the cuts in a rage.
"Aye, and if you were older and bigger, you'd come to the flogging block still—
"Boys are never too big to be beaten!" he lays on the birch with a will,
"if a boy's not too old to go wrong, Sir, he can't be too old to be whipped;
"So take that!" and he lays on the rod, till the twigs all with crimson are tipped.
There are drops of the boy's blood visible now, on each tender young bud-
Blood has dropped on his trousers, and Charlie's bare bottom is covered with blood.
But I'd rather be shut up for days, in a hole you would scarce put a dog in.
And brought out once a day to be birched, than have missed Charlie Collingwood's
How each cut brings the blood to his forehead, and makes him bite half through his
How the birch cuts his bottom right over, and makes the blood spin from his hips!
How his brawny bare haunches, all bloody, and wealed, with red furrows like ruts,
Shrink quivering with pain at each stroke, that revives all the smart of past cuts!
How the Schoolmaster seems to hit harder, the birch to sting more at each blow!
Till at last Charlie Collingwood, writhing with agony, bellows out,"Oh!"
That was all; not a word of petition; a single short cry and no more;
And the younger boys laugh, that the birch should have made such a big fellow roar.
For a moment, the Master too pauses; but not for a truce or a parley:
Then the birch falls afresh, on the bloody wealed flesh, with "Take that, Master
All the small boys are breathless and hushed; but they hear not a syllable come,
They hear only the swish of the birch, as it meets Charlie Collingwood's bum.
And the Master's face flushes with anger; he signs to Fred Fane with a nod;
And Freddy reluctantly hands him another stout, supple birch rod.
And again as he flogs Charlie Collingwood's bottom, his face seems aflame;
At each cut he reminds him of this thing or that, and rebukes him by name.
Each cut makes the boy's haunches quiver, and scores them all over afresh;
You can trace where each separate birch twig has marked Charlie Collingwood's
Till the Master, tired out with hard work, and quite satiate with flogging for once.
With one last cut, that stings to the quick, bids him rise for an Obstinate Dunce.
From the block Charlie Collingwood rises, red faced, and with tumbled red hair.
And with crimson hued bottom, and tearful blue eyes, and a look of "Don't Care."

Then he draws up his breeches, and walks out of school with a crowd of boys
The heels of their hero, all proud to have seen Charlie Collingwood's flogging.


Birching at Eton

June 27 2005, 3:07 AM 

I have also read articles of the sexual nature of the birching of 11 - 18 year schoolboys at Eton particularly as it was done in the early 19th century.

Paul mentions that younger boys usually wetted during a flogging.

A more interesting physical effect of these birchings, however, was that frequently, at the end of the flogging, the victim had an erection. Whether this was caused by sexual arousal, or merely by the physical trauma and flow of blood to the area I don't know. Bearing in mind the shear savagery of the floggings at the school, and that a flogged boy was literally having every square inch of flesh on his buttocks and upper thighs, right up to his anal and perineal region, birched to a raw and bloody pulp, causing involuntary erection is really not surprising.

It's right that the true savagery and indecency of Eton's history should be brought to light.

Thanks for an interesting and enlightening post.

This message has been edited by larry1951 on Jun 9, 2008 7:01 AM



June 29 2005, 12:21 AM 

I have read accounts of birch twigs being embedded in the flesh. Presumably, boys depended on their chums to squeeze the twigs out. Little wonder those lads bonded for life i.e 'Old Boy Network' ...

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Re:

June 29 2005, 11:41 AM 

These posting may be interesting from a historical perspective but, if any reader is deriving the least bit of erotic pleasure from them, I urge him to seek therapy without delay.



July 4 2005, 4:36 PM 

This sounds like nonsense to me, as I know that great care was always taken to protect the genitals during birchings. Mostly legs were together for the spray birch, but special wooden protecters were used, and leather genital bags in some institutions. A lot of damage could have been done to the un-protected genitals and therefore this sounds like poetic nonsense.


Birching at Eton

September 18 2005, 3:10 AM 

A most interesting thread.

I have heard that in was common for some boys to be birched as frequently as once a week, mainly those who had what would be described today as "behavioural problems". This could add up to 40 birchings per year, and in a school career of from age 10 to 18, a total of 320 birchings. It is true that after an Eton type of birching, a boy's naked bottom would literally be a raw mass of blood, and he could have had this done to his bottom this many times throughout childhood and adolesence. It's not surprising that so many boys who were flogged frequently became hardened and indifferent to the whole ritual and experience of birching while mounted on the flogging block in the manner described.

Upon leaving the school at 18 or 19, most boys from aristocratic families in the 17th and 18th centuries would have gone straight into an arranged marriage, most probably to a girl who had also experienced regular birchings at an exclusive finishing school for young ladies.

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Birching at Eton

September 18 2005, 11:15 AM 

" . . . most probably to a girl who had also experienced regular birchings at an exclusive finishing school for young ladies."

The fantasy continues.

It never happened.


Re: Birching at Eton

September 18 2005, 1:59 PM 

We must take Miss Nonsense's word for this, folks. It's a little known fact that she personally monitored every Ladies Finishing school between 1750 and 1900.

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Birching at Eton

September 18 2005, 6:45 PM 

We'll find many references on the Internet to girls being whacked with a birch but the vast majority of such references are linked to porno websites where, of course, fantasy is not entirely unknown.

I have no wish to ruin readers' fantasies but if we're going to keep any sort of grip upon reality we'll have to accept that there's no evidence that any girl was ever birched on her bum at a British school.

The truth is that, if birched at all, a girl was birched relatively lightly on her neck and shoulders.

We read of such a birching in 'Jane Eyre' and, much to the chagrin of those who thought that Ms Bronte had used the word 'neck' as a euphemism for 'beautiful bare bottom', the nationally famous CP expert - our own dear Deep Pan - has confirmed that she herself was birched on her neck and shoulders at convent school in Ireland.

Like so many other things in the world of schoolgirl CP - birching on the bum NEVER HAPPENED.


Re: Birching at Eton

September 18 2005, 8:39 PM 

'Like so many other things in the world of schoolgirl CP - birching on the bum NEVER HAPPENED.'
End of story - another thread bites the dust!


Birching of girls

September 19 2005, 8:24 AM 

Of course birching of girls happened in the 19th century.

There are many references to this activity, and Gibson's famous book of the subject gives a number of instances.

In one sence "Lotta" IS correct - birching did NOT happen in "respectable" schools, so far as is known. However in workshouse type establishments and the infamous school at Clifton in bristol, it certainly happened.

There is the famous "Rochester WorkHouse" scandal where the man in charge [Was it James Milne?] was tried for birching young girls and, I believe, acquitted the first time round. The school at Clifton in bristol was run by a woman who specialised in birching girls - I do believe she, too, was taken to court and I think convicted.

So girls WERE birched at certain establishments which were set up for various reasons, not always of a "pure" nature.



Re: Birching of girls

September 19 2005, 8:31 AM 

53 Oakfield Road

November 1889

Mrs Heaton,


I have waited until later, because I thought I might get another letter from you. If your daughter is "feigning", we must certainly bring her to her senses. My reason for suggesting postponing the whipping for a little was simply that if she really was in bad health it might be wise to wait.

I will arrange to be quite free on Friday, and to give the punishment in the afternoon. I hope to have a quiet word with you prior to this, and the tawse will be in my pocket, to be produced when necessary.

You will oblige me by waiting in another room until I tap - when the girl is fastened. I wish to make her understand me alone, if possible. I prefer that she does not see you until after it is done. I propose to give Millicent about a dozen with the strap, and she will not forget that quickly. No injury will be done, and she will be sufficiently tender for a few days to remember it.

I hope that you may feel that your daughter has benefited by the whipping. I use the birch commonly; the tawse for serious punishment. Ten strokes of that will be severe for a girl. When I punish, I do it *thoroughly*, but not cruelly.

I am sure the punishment will cure the temper, and I hope to have the pleasure of showing you your daughter much improved.


[Extracted from a letter about four times as long published in "Truth", 21 November 1889.

Mrs Walter made it clear in a pamphlet she provided to parents thinking of bringing a daughter to her that, when she punished, it was on the bare buttocks, the recipient being required to bend over "a strong, narrow table" to which if necessary she could be secured.]


Re: Birching of girls

September 19 2005, 8:34 AM 

Ian Gibson, "The English Vice", 1978, p. 81.

'The report of the Schools Inquiry Commission ...

The Royal Patriotic Asylum ... was a girls' institution opened at Wandsworth in 1869 for the education of the children of victims of the Crimean War. When conditions at the school came to the notice of the House of Commons in 1863 it was found "among other things, that a girl who was within two months of having completed her fifteenth year had been flogged with a birch rod by the lady superindendant under the epxress direction of the chaplain.' ...

Then there were the girls' Reformatory and Industrial schools, details of which may be obtained from the 1868 Report. Here, as in the boys' schools of the same category, birch, cane and tawse were in frequent use. ...

[Mrs Cameron, superintendant of the Maryhill School, Glasgow:]

'Have you any corporal punishment? - Yes, we have.

How often? - The average I should think is two or three girls in a month.

Are they caned on the hand or on the back? - On the back; and not with the cane.

With a birch? - with a leathern tawse.

Of course it is done in private? - Yes.

How many strokes do you give? - I have given as many as five for a very serious offence.

Do you give that yoursel? - I give that myself. I keep the weapons locked up.'

[Mrs C. Hunter, superintendant East Chapelton Reformatory for Girls:]

'Will you tell me what a whipping consists of ? - All strokes with the tawse.

And on what part of the body? - On the hand, mostly.

Any otherwise? - Yes.

What, on the shoulders? - No, we put them to bed.'

The Chairman was not to be silenced by such a bizarre reply, and his further questioning of Miss Hunter revealed that, before a culprit was 'put to bed', she was 'stripped and whipped'."

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Birching of girls

September 19 2005, 10:42 AM 

It may be that the documents referred to above are entirely genuine - although one has to say that a publication called 'Truth' is no more likely to contain truth than a plane with 'Virgin' on the outside is likely to have one on the INside.

However, even if we allow the documents, with the best will in the world we have also to allow that such institutions are not 'schools' in the sense in which we understand the word on this forum.

Where a person is essentially a prisoner, who knows what might or might not befall him or her?


Re: Birching of girls

September 19 2005, 11:30 AM 

I really envy people like Lotta who are so certain that they, and only they, have all the facts the whole time.

She asks 'Where a person is essentially a prisoner, who knows what might or might not befall him or her?'. Quite correct but schools in the old days were very similar to prisons, in as much the 'inmates' had little chance of escape and, if they did manage it, they were usually dragged back and punished extremely severely.
It was stated that an Eton birching would leave the boy's backside a 'raw and bloody mess'. Further on it says that some boy's received 40 birchings a year - that's one every week and a half throughout his seven or eight year career there! If it was so horrific, how come the boys didn't abscond? It was that they were virtual prisoners, Lotta, so why do you think the girls weren't?

As far as having all the details of what went on in every school, boy or girl, there were hardly any ways that information could get out to the outside world. Perhaps the 'easy' ones were willing to publish their enlightened ways but I doubt if the 'hard' ones were!
The girls came out of such schools highly disciplined, I wonder how that was achieved? They certainly were better behaved and had better manners than most of today's youth and I don't think that came about by handling them with kid gloves.

You may be right, Lotta, it may never ever have happened but, unlike you, I wouldn't put my shirt on it.

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Birching of girls

September 19 2005, 11:56 AM 

Some people choose to believe in God. Others believe in ghosts while others believe girls were birched at 'normal' British schools.

If someone will produce evidence that any of the above beliefs are well-founded, I'll be pleased to consider it.

In the meantime, I remain sceptical.


Re: Birching of girls

September 19 2005, 3:42 PM 

It is quite correct that reformatories of various sorts, were not regular schools - but seeing this topic has come up, a little evidence for the fact that birching of girls did occur in such institutions.

The following is from The *Times* of November 9, 1900 - page 12.

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Re: Birching of girls

September 19 2005, 9:14 PM 

Anonymous contributions are not permitted.

This message has been edited by larry1951 on Sep 20, 2005 8:08 AM


Re: Birching of girls

September 19 2005, 9:37 PM 

Dean refrains from stating the obvious, namely that Miss Honnor Morten's strong objection to the birching of girls in their teens is a strong objection to birching girls on those parts of their bodies that at that stage of life develop as the 'secondary sexual characteristics', i.e. on the bum.

'Truth' is on microfilm in large libraries and anyone who can be bothered cane read it for themselves. It is scarcely less respectably stodgy than the Times extract quoted here.

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