Another touch of the birch in a Victorian household


The recent article on the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine seems to have caused quite a stir and there have been several links made to it. These factual and quasi-factual histrionics seem to have struck a chord since last year’s publication of the Markham Project.

Since you are all so keen, here is another excerpt from the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, 1870

“I put out my hands, which she fastened together with a cord by the wrists. Then making me lie down across the foot of the bed, face downwards, she very quietly and deliberately, putting her left hand around my waist, gave me a shower of smart slaps with her open right hand. Raising the birch, I could hear it whiz in the air, and oh, how terrible it felt as it came down, and as its repeated strokes came swish, swish, swish on me.”

This was included near the conclusion of a long running debate begun as early as 1868 in the EDM as to whether adult daughters should be chastised.

This odd little snippet was found juxtaposition with the above and might be from another publication.

“Last Sunday my sister Jane got a quite dreadful whipping from Mama. I can’t say she didn’t deserve it for she spent the money left over from a shopping errand on a pair of gloves for herself.”

“It is not that she was punished, or the way in which she was punished that disconcerts me so. As it took place she was summoned to the back parlour by Mama and made to lower her under things so that she could be birched upon the bare posterior. Then she was made to stand penitently in the corner for the afternoon with her attire not fully repaired. As I say, this of itself was not usual, having been Mama’s practice since we girls had become great girls.”

“What does concern me is that it has been two years since either of us have been treated so and I had thought such things beyond us now. This is all the more troubling as Jane is two years older than I.”

It is too short for fiction and too self-absorbed for a letter. Perhaps it was published as suggestive prose to spark a debate. It seemed to fit here.


4 Responses to “Another touch of the birch in a Victorian household”

  1. 1 opsimath

    As you say, Damian, a difficult one to call, but most entertaining nonetheless – they must have been good times – if you were the one with the birch, of course, and not the one receiving it!

    Mmmm – I don’t know, though…


  2. That second story really caught my attention which it should not as F/f does little for me but something about is just captivating. There should be a warning on these stories. I am all of a quiver. 🙂

  3. I wish the birch would be brought back. If for example I was caught speeding and wither the birch or the cane was an option instead of penalty points I would definitely opt for the birch or the cane.

    The other fact remains that I am sexually aroused by the mere mention of the words, cane, spank, birch, flogging, or corporal punishment.

    The threat of the birch would drastically reduce crime.

  4. In Victorian households, not only were daughters spanked, but wives as well. Yes, the man of the house, be it an upstairs affair, or downstairs affair, the man of the house would take all the female members one by one and spank them. Sometimes he would use the birch, other times the cane, and he would plant these painfully corporal punishment implement solidily on these female bottom, and I mean bare bottoms,

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