This week the Greater Manchester Museums Group (GMMG) have been here in Stockport photographing some of our objects. For what and why I will explain in a specific blog post next week. But for now I can tell you this, an estimated 50 objects have been photographed alongside some other exciting things happening. And so, for this weeks Find it Friday here are three of the objects used, as a bit of a teaser…
1. Breast bone
On the night of July 23rd 1819 Constable William Birch was interviewing a one Rev. Joseph Harrison at his home in Churchgate. At about 9.45pm a mob formed outside threatening to attack the house to release Harrison, who was a prominent figure with the National Union for Radical Reform. Constable Birch began to head to a magistrates house for advice when he was approached by three men.
These men, identified as J.Bruce, D.Davis and J.McGuiness, blocked his way. McGuiness pointed a pistol at Constable Birch and shot him in the chest. Constable Birch escaped into a nearby garden while the three men disappeared; it is thought that McGuiness headed for Ireland.
Emergency surgery was performed on the night of the attack but no evidence was found of the bullet. Constable Birch’s condition at the time was stated as not life threatening by a police spokesman.
There was some doubt as to the validity of the attack and so once Constable Birch died (not due to this attack) an autopsy was performed and lead shot was discovered embedded in his breastbone.
2. Horse Boots
These boots were worn on the hooves of the horses that once worked in the grounds of Stockport’s Vernon Park. They are made from leather, have thick straps with large buckles to keep them on and would have been used from around 1900 to the 1930s.
The horses would have worked the grounds by pulling between 3 and 5 mowers, known as gang mowers, to cut the grass. They would wear the boots to ensure their hooves did not churn the soil as they walked.
Gang mowers are rarely pulled by horses today as tractors are more commonly used.
3. Scolds Bridal
‘Scold’ was a word once used to describe a rude woman. A woman who was gossiping, slanderous, drunkenly singing or a woman who disobeyed her husband would be punished using a Scolds Bridal.
Allocated as a punishment by the local magistrate, the Scolds Bridal was made from heavy iron and attached tightly around the head. The bridal has a ‘bit’ that is placed inside the mouth and rests on top of the tongue. It is studded with spikes causing terrible pain and silencing the wearer.
This Scolds Bridal shows an attached leash that would be used to walk the woman through town to humiliate her and allow for the towns people to mock and often beat her.
After this practice was outlawed the Scolds Bridal hung on the wall in Stockport’s market hall as a warning. The last wife sale was said to have been held here in the mid 1800’s, where women were often sold for a barrel of beer or 5 shillings (25p).
Make sure to check back next week to find out what is happening with these objects and why they have been chosen from the larger collection!