Taking Stock

In February 1890 The Abinger Monthly Record reported:-

"A vandalic proposal to remove the stocks and whipping post from the village green here - thanks to the Lord of the Manor - was not executed. A protecting roof and fence being erected over and around instead, to preserve them as a relic of the olden times"

Stocks 1875
In the last months of the 20th century that "protecting roof" started to lean dangerously and was temporarily propped-up whilst help and advice were sought by Abinger Parish Council. The outcome was a full and successful repair to the structure. Financial and technical help was given by Surrey County Council's Historic Buildings Trust and Mole Valley District Council. The work of installing two giant pieces of oak, rather like railway 'sleepers', was skilfully carried out by Geoff Tidy.

As early as 1376 the House of Commons "prayed" the King to put stocks in every village. Stocks and whipping posts were used as punishment of vagabonds and offenders. They continued in use until the early part of the 19th century when police forces started to develop, and the local "peeler" (as he was called after the Metropolitan Force's founder,Sir Robert Peel) began to take over civil crime problems from the local communities.

Stocks 1901
Thank goodness "whippers" are no more; the local "whipper" used to be in action during divine service whipping stray dogs who entered the church, awakening sleepers and keeping children quiet and orderly. He or she had a long stick like a fishing rod with a knob on one end for rapping sleeping males and a fox's brush, or similar, on the other to tickle the faces of the female sleepers in the congregation. The whip used at the whipping post was a thong about 3ft long fastened to an ash stick. One of the last recorded use of stocks in this country was 1850 at Berwick-on-Tweed The offender was a woman.

Stocks 2012
In J.S. Bright's History of Dorking (1884) he says "There is a pair of stocks at Abinger, which is probably one of the few surviving in the country. They were used as recently as 1820 and 1830 for the purpose of punishing boys who behaved in a disorderly manner during divine service". The Abinger Monthly Record gave more details. Apparently, the Rector, the Rev.H.J. Ridley, generally regarded as a kind-hearted man - as it is hoped all rectors are - "occasionally employed the stocks as a mode of punishment for refractory boys".

Stocks 2015 (refurbished)
Now in the 21st century Abinger can continue to claim "one of the few surviving (pair of stocks) in the country".

Abinger & Coldharbour Parish News, Eric Burleton April 2000