The Art of Girl Flogging


vintage spankingbirchingWe knew the Victorians were keen on spanking on the birch, it went hand in hand with keeping young women in their place but just how far did they go? Here we have a true account of a woman offering a discipline service for unruly adult daughters.

I came across this tale in the History of the Rod, but investigation online reveals several sources for this tale including from the contemporary source the Truth magazine.

It seems Mrs Walter operated from Oakfield Road, Clifton, in Bristol England and advertised her respectable chastising service for unruly daughters in the national papers. One advertisement read: ‘Bad temper, hysteria, idleness etc. cured by strict disciple and careful training’.

The Truth sent an undercover woman reporter along to find out. She explained she had an unruly daughter she wanted tamed. For the sum of £100 Mrs Walter offered to take the unruly girl under her wing for a whole year. She even offered references from the Dean of Lincoln, an admiral, a general and several aristocrats.

Mrs Walter was well equipped with a birch table, several birches and evidentially made the girls dress in a gown that was open at the back. She claimed never to birch or punish in anger, but to always punish soundly on the bare bottom when the young woman was ‘needful.’

“Taking the birch, I measure my distance and, standing at the side, I proceed to strike slowly but firmly” Mrs Walter explained. “By moving gently forward, each stroke is differently placed and six strokes may well be enough if given with full force. If the fault has been such as to need severe correction, then I begin on the other side and work back again.”

Mrs Walter did not like the girls to resist or even scream and for such behaviour she would add strokes or even repeat the punishment.

At its height Mrs Walter ran a respectable business advertising her services openly and contracting via the church magazine for a supply of birch rods from a reputable supplier.

Here is the The Truth article in full.

Some months ago I called attention to the advertisements on the part of the women, offering to flog unruly girls of any age on payment of a fee. It struck me that this sort of thing ought to be exposed, and I endeavour to enter into correspondence with the “operator.”

She probably, however, suspected the hook, for she did not rise to the fly. On October 5th the following advertisement appeared in the Daily Telegraph: — Bad temper, hysteria, idleness, &c, cured by strict discipline and careful trainer. Three girls received. — Address G., care of Mrs Clapp, St. John’s Wood, Clifton.

This was followed by this further advertisement in the Times of October 21st:— intractable girls trained and educated. Excellent references, “Hints on Management of Children,” “Training of Children,” and “The Rod,” Is each. Advice by letter, Is.— Address, Mrs Walter, Clifton. Since then several other advertisements of the same nature have appeared.

A friend of mine has thrown a fly, and the fish has risen to the bait. He got a lady of his acquaintance to write to say that she had an intractable daughter, whom she wished to be “broken in,” and requesting the advertiser to send pamphlets, and letter of advice. The books and the letter were sent. Here is the letter, together with a list of persons to whom references are kindly permitted:— Clifton, October 24. Dear madam, —Thank you for your latter of to-day. I am prepared to take another girl at any time, and offer her a comfortable and refined home, with educational advantages.

With much experience I am able to say that those girls who will not work at home, do so when they are taken individually. I have one girl here who had been troublesome for five years, yet who is most amenable to me and my wishes.

Her friends live near London, but I prefer not to refer to them unless I am obliged, because the daughter’s neglected education is a very sore subject with them. You will see from enclosed testimonials and lift of references that I can be recommended. Mr Christopher Heath knows the parents of one of my pupils, and will, I am sure, be happy to answer any questions you may like to ask him. My old friend, Admiral Strode, will be iu Town next week, but a man at, his club is not easily seen by a lady.

Mr proper name is Mrs Walter Smith, “Walter” being my nom-de-plume. My second daughter assists me with the girl and I have professors for music, painting, dancing, &c. I could take your niece for £100 per annum, entering at any time, if she is under twenty years of age. If more, I must have some little extra for holidays. My present arrangement is to be in Town about the 11th of November for a day, but I may be called there on Saturday for a few hours.

You will, perhaps, let me know as soon as you have come to a decision about your niece. My fees are usually paid three months in advance. Enclosed please find the explanation of my system. Believe me, dear madam, yours faithfully, E. Walter, MODUS OPERANDI WITH IXTRACTAULE CURLS.

Unwilling as I may be to say it, very often the fault of the girls is merely the natural result of careless training. Parents do not always realise the fact that unless the girls are well occupied and carefully trained at all times, much mischief will accrue. Some girls are idle constitutionally, this must be cured; others have a superfluous amount of energy, this needs to be well directed.

Whether at lessons or play, real interest should be taken so as to do it thoroughly. It is better if girls have got troublesome to make plans, and then completely change their system, beginning in a new groove. Change of scene is, of course, helpful but if for fresh habits are formed, and on the return improved comfort shows itself.

My first object when a girl is placed with me is to show her kindly, but firmly, that I must be implicitly obeyed It is always a good plan to rule by moral suasion if possible. When that has been fairly tried and fails, then it is positively necessary to use some other means of making the girl obey. First I warn her of the consequences of repeated faults; then, when a direct act of disobedience, a lie, or very serious fault shows itself, I tell her that presently I shall punish.

Never birch when angry. During the interval she thinks over the fault. I make preparations. These consist in having ready a strong narrow table, straps (waist band with sliding strap, anklets and wristlets), cushions, and a good, long, pliable rod, telling her to prepare by removing her dress, knickers, &c, and putting on the dressing-gown (hind part before). Then I talk seriously to her, show her the nature of the fault, and the need of punishment as a cure. Next I put on the waist band, after having told her that if she submits quietly no one need know; if she struggles I must call in help (girls generally prefer to be quiet).

Placing her at the end of the table (on which there are cushions to protect the person) I turn her body over the table and fasten the straps underneath it. Then I fasten the knees together, wrists the same, unless I anticipate a struggle— then I use anklets and wristlets, and fasten the limbs to the legs of the table. This really takes less time to do than to write about. Unfastening the dressing-gown, the orthodox surface is found at the right angle for punishing.

Taking the birch, I measure my distance, and, standing at the side, proceed to strike slowly but firmly. By moving gently forward each stroke is differently placed, and six strokes may be enough if well given with full force. If the fault has been such as to need severe correction, then I begin on the other side and work back again.

For screams increased strokes must be given. If a girl tries very hard indeed to bear it bravely, then, perhaps, I give 10 instead of 12.

Directly it is finished I cover up the part exposed, unfasten the girl, and, finding her probably more subdued, help to resolutions of amendment. If this birching has been judiciously and conscientiously administered, the girl will bear against the operation no resentment, but be ready to “kiss and be friends.”

After allowing the culprit a little time to compose herself and re-dress, I expect her to join the others, and no mention of any kind is made of the punishment unless future misconduct makes it necessary, and this is not often.

Birching is an extraordinary thing, not an every-day work, therefore care must be taken that the operator has the proper nerve and patience for the operation. Mothers are the proper persons to whip girls; but if they have not the necessary nerve, then it is better to appoint a deputy. After this serious business is over, much steady patience is needed, for a birching is no use whatever if a girl is to be petted again and allowed to do just as she likes. She must be under firm, kind discipline.

None of my girls have been more attached to me than those whom I have been obliged to discipline severely. They have a great respect for those who can master them, and who do not taunt them with past misdeeds. One good scolding is worth months of “nagging.” Efforts at amendment must be encouraged, and those having the charge of girls must not expect to reform them all at once. ” Rome vas not built in a day.” The old Adam will sometimes show itself, and for checking his work nothing is so useful as a birch rod judiciously used. E. W. [Here follow the names of gentlemen whose reference? are kindly permitted].

My friend then put himself in communication with the woman, saying that he had an intractable ward, aged sixteen. He had three interviews with her at a boarding-house in Porchester Gardens. Subsequently, as he was passing through Bristol, he called on her.

He describes her as a tall, strong woman, arrayed in the dress of some sort of order, and wearing a medallion with the effigy of a “Good Shepherd” stamped upon it. As an inducement to him to confide his ward to her tender mercies, she said she had girls of twenty in her house, to whom a week or two previous she had administered 15 cuts with a birch rod, and she explained that she had a considerable number of clients in London whose daughters she chastised. This appears probable, for when my friend called on her, it was difficult to get more than a few minutes’ conversation with her, there were so many waiting for an audience. Each interview costs half-a-guinea. She had before her a book, in which her flogging engagements were registered, and they appeared to be numerous.

I append two extracts from the pamphlet entitled “The Rod”: According to some writers and physicians, flagellation is a remedy for torpid condition and lack of muscular energy; it clears the brain, and braces the nerves; in short, there is nothing it will not do, when properly applied _ The rod has been found to cure all feigned diseases. For hypochondriacally cases it is an excellent remedy.

To be effectual the rods should be of the right sort. They can be bought at Clifton of Mrs Clapp, St. John’s road, from 5d upwards, trimmed if required. They can be sent post free for 3d each. They should be made from 2. to 3ft. Gin. long, and very thin and pliable. I get mine from a family who have made them for generations. And here are two extracts from the pamphlet entitled “Hints on the Management of Untractable Girls “Parents who have not the necessary patience or nerve should depute some person for this office, and, having done so, let them not be restricted in any way, for something must be left to the discretion of the operator. Anyone who would be deterred by screams or struggles from carrying out what has been begun should never attempt whipping, because, unless it is thoroughly done, ground is lost, and the girl will rejoice in her triumph.

2 Responses to “The Art of Girl Flogging”

  1. 1 susie james

    Someone please enroll me in her boarding school.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: