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Casterton School-Birching of females

March 4 2007 at 11:56 AM

The Book "The Best type of girl-a history of independent schools"by Gillian Avery 1991 Andre Deutsch describes flogging of girls by birch at Cowan Bridge(aka Casterton School)where Charlotte brontes sister was" birched "as well as younger girls!(pps 27 and 49-50)Also a school cllaed Greycoat Charity hospital where girls as well as boys were "constantly flogged"and it was so severe that riots occurred and the Matron was arrested(for flogging).This however appears to be the sole reference in 300 years to the flogging by birch of females in Great Britain!(in School).
Not very encouraging to all those fantasist out there who imagine a somewhat more frequent scenario?

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Steve M

Re: Casterton School-Birching of females

March 4 2007, 12:27 PM 


For a good 160 of your 300 years, girls were not educated at all.

Even into the middle Victorian period ie 1850-1870, all but the labouring classes would have used governesses to teach their daughters. Isn't it actually Jane Eyre by one of the Bronte girls that is full of the governess telling children to fetch the birch?

In fact, if you view a book called Night's Dark Angels(forgotten the author), you will find that, in London at least, in 1870-1880. the city had many spanking HOUSES, and a few spanking BROTHELS.

Spanking houses advertised in the trade directories of the time and even in the better newspapers. They were presided over by a Madame, and were solely dedicated to spanking Victorian girls(up to the age of 21, too)whose parents were persuaded that their daughters could not have devillment etc beaten out of them at school, needed such beating for their moral betterment, and were reluctant to do it themselves.

The girl was stripped to her drawers by the houses's servants, and made to put on a dressing gown back to front. She would then be led to the block, the dressing gown removed by the servants, the girl planted over the block, and her drawers pulled down by Madame, who then laid on six of the birch. From previous posts, you'll know I believe women lay it on far worse than men, and here's more evidence!

All this was done in front of Pater and Mater, of course.

And yes, if I had a Tardis, you can guess where it might be set to visit first...................!

Universal education act-we need a historian, but I think it was 1872? The question is whether boys and girls in those elementary board schools which that act introduced were getting it in the neck equally, with what, etc.

Then, we need to fill in the period from there to the first World War-and we will finally be sure about when the beating of girls in schools became a rare occurence. It was definitely generally frowned on, even at primary level, by the time my Mum went to school(started 1932), whereas boys were expected to deserve and get it regularly, something which several of our fellow forum members will have seen and or experienced right up through to the early 60's.

In other words, Bozo, this is a fascinating question and wouldn't you just have loved your careers master to give you some literature on becoming a spanking house proprietor?

Even better if they'd arranged a practical examination and Uni course on it!

Steve M



March 5 2007, 12:43 PM 

Yes,but wasnt familiar with the exact details you mention.V.Interesting.
There was a considerable correspondence in the Ladies Journal and other periodicals about all this at the time.However a lot of the pro-letters were often found to be fake-gents masquesrading as women-even in those days,
despite credulity it seems birching of grown girls even then was never taken THAT seriously-the taboo on female nakedness and sex was just too strong.
The Victorians werent stupid and were well aware that a fat bare bum
was just plain rude and erotic!

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Birch

March 5 2007, 3:07 PM 

Parents taking their daughters to be professionally birched?

Please get back in touch with reality, Steve, and stop believing all you read in dodgy books.

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Birch

March 5 2007, 3:10 PM 

And Bozo might be interested to learn that birching of girls at Jane Eyre's school (and the real school(s) upon which the story is based) was done around the neck and nowhere near the bum.

Steve M

Re: Birch

March 5 2007, 6:11 PM 


You will find a great deal of this verified, along with other interesting(or disgusting) details of the Victorian sex trade in the Parliamentary & Judical report into the White Slave scandal.

What it did was to result in the imprisonment of a crusading journalist who purchased a 12 year old girl from a brothel. And in the age of consent being raised from 12 to 14.

Don't forget this was also an era when a husband could LEGALLY beat his wife, provided the cane he used was not beyond a certain thickness.

Crazy, possibly a little politically uncorrect, but true. This book was not a particularly salacious one, despite its' overall tone. It dealt with all the various cruelties our ancestors practised on children. You don't need to read Dickens to know that professional birching of daughters for the Chelsea Tractor drivers of those days was a pretty minor part of that cruelty.

Still, it's a fact.

Steve M

Annonymous Tip

In the know

March 6 2007, 4:07 AM 

Lotta, that Steve guy is right. I've read the same book. I say he can be trusted to tell the truth.



March 6 2007, 9:57 AM 

Yes its accurate that in her books the birching is described as being on the neck-however I can reveal that in the professional opinion of a leading public school English Literature Sixth Form Master(who later became Head of Shrewsbury Public School I think)this is in fact may be a euphamism used by Charlotte Bronte in place of the buttocks.!A book containing a description or even reference to birching on the bottom of a girl would never have passed her publishers and was considered far too indelicate for her readers of Ladies
and Gentlefolk.Descriptions of bare bottom birchings did exist and even colour plate drawings but these were relegated to the realm of pornography for servants.
Regarding the Casterton case a strange pamphlet does exist called
"A refutation of the statements in The Life of Charlotte Bronte regarding the Casterton Clergy Daughters School when at Cowan Bridge"by William Carus Wilson,(Headmaster) .J.Whereat 1857.
So it seems getting to the bottom of this has 2 sides.


Night's Dark Shadow

March 12 2007, 8:49 PM 

Just to say the author of the book mentioned is the late Ronald Pearsall who also wrote other books on Victorian Sexuality including
Thw Worm in the Bud
Public Purity, Private Shame: Victorian Sexual Hypocrisy Exposed.

All have material on corporal punishment - worth checking out on Ebay etc.


Birching on the neck

June 26 2008, 5:31 PM 

Neck is not an euphemism. One of its meanings is a place where the curved element of any structure passes into a straight-formed one (f.e. buttocks into legs). Compare with a neck of a wineglass...
So the punishment as described in "Jane Eyre" is one of the most painful...



June 27 2008, 2:30 PM 

Hmm possibly Wolfgang,would that not also suggest the waist-at the top where the slop of the lower back meets the top of the buttocks?Surely a dangerous place "above"the mid buttock line...
Ladies in those days wore dresses that were bare on a large portion of the neck all round,decollate front.
perhaps rather than the neck it means more the top of the fleshy rear back and shoulders,?
A birching upon here would have the added ease of no clothing having to be removed or only the back top of the dress partially unzipped as shown in the mysteries flagellation mural in Pompeii where a lady is shown being whipped upon the whole bare back,as the area would be bare anyway?



December 27 2008, 10:39 AM 

CP of schoolgirls is still fairly common today but kept secret. We had it in my school. It was the prerogative of the headmaster. A female teacher was supposed to be present when the punishment was on the bare buttocks to maintain a modicum of decorum. However she may not always be present. One had to lean over the desk and your skirts would be tucked in the waistband, then the panties pulled down, and you took your strokes wriggling all over with the pain. Absolutely humiliating to young teen girls when their legs flew all over the place, and their secret places revealed

Steve M

Re: Casterton School-Birching of females

December 27 2008, 8:31 PM 

Which school, please-assuming this was GB?

If it is, you should find yourself a competent lawyer and sue them for everything you can.

Steve M

Peter Jameson

Yes, its a shame

August 16 2011, 8:45 PM 

that there aren't plenty more examples. I was amazed though that someone could say that a Madame could hit harder - was tat just wishful thinking?

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