Dotes: birching in Kent
This is an anecdote that has not been published because it is almost too brief and trivial. But recent posts have led this to take on more significance. Do we have a mystery on our hands?
Some years ago at a dinner party with some of the in-laws and their friends the conversation got around to “kids today and what they need is a damn good thrashing”, this from a rather boring older man.
“It didn’t do me any harm.” He went on predictably. “Of course you lovely young ladies wouldn’t know about that.”
Well the hostess and her two daughters did not know anything about it, well two of them didn’t anyway, although one of the daughters had some recent experience and blushed accordingly.
However one of the other women piped up: “I was caned at school, gosh it hurt.”
“At my school in Kent we were birched in the sixth form.” Added a middle-aged woman judged to be in the sixth form around 1970.
“That’s a bit exotic we got six, do you get more or less with a birch?” The woman who had been caned asked.
“More.” The older women replied reluctantly, she was beginning to look as if she wished she hadn’t said anything.
“I thought the birch was only given bare.” One of the daughters supplied.
“Well quite.” Murmured the birched woman blushing.
“Never punish girls on the bare.” The old bore said knowingly, not hearing her.
The hostess quickly changed the subject.
Years later there was another reference on web board about bare bottom birching of girls at a Kent girl’s school in the mid 20th century and beyond. Google had not revealed anything more.
Then this week in comments made in response to the second Markham Project post there was a flurry of posts on birching in Kent.
It began with Miriam’s post: “my great Aunt went to a girls’ school in Kent in the late 1940s and 1950s where they still used the birch.”
Susie said of her mother at school in Kent during the 1960s: “Mummy dearest received whippy little twiggs across the bare bot-bot.
The birch was for older gals or for very serious offences. Younger girls usually got the slipper (not bare).
The birch was only semi-official. The parents knew and it was an open secret that they used it. Official they advertised themselves as not using the cane. Those rascals.
Mum got it between 16 and 18 for smoking, pushing a girl out of a window, being caught with a boy in a potting shed, being out of bounds whilst being gated for being out of bounds.
She said it was very embarrassing and stung. Apparently it left marks like a nettle rash that were sore for days.”
Is someone pulling our leg? Does anyone know more?
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Tags: birching, birching in kent, sixth-form, spanking