The Ducking Stool

I moved from this site to New Milton in 2011, but I have a good feeling for my Ducking Stool Clinic where I practiced for nearly 20 years. But it is loved by tourists because of the ducking stool in the Mill Stream. So I’ve left this page here.

The Way to the Herbalist on the Ducking Stool

Walk down the cobbled lane, called The Drum, between the oldest pub in Christchurch, Ye Olde George Inne (which sells the best real ales in the area), leading to Ducking Stool Lane and the Ducking Stool. These pictures show the different views from the Herbal Clinic towards the ducking stool. You’ll also see the ducking stool itself and Alan Hopking the herbalist on the ducking stool. Visit our other pages for more pictures inside our famous old apothecary and clinic.

Ducking Stool, mechanism used in England and America, invented in the 15th century and used into the early 19th century, for the punishment of scolds and troublesome people (including herbalists). The culprit was raised and lowered into the water. It was grossly unpleasant, and often fatal. Come and look for yourself at the Christchurch Ducking Stool on Mill Stream near to Herbactive Herbalist and see if you’re not incredulous.

This picture shows you where the ducking stool was (and is) placed – it is on the Mill Stream, the small waterway at the very base of this picture (ducking stool not shown). In the centre is the famous old Christchurch Castle (now in ruins); at the top of the picture is the great Augustine monastery (only the Priory Trinity Church remains (which has the longest nave in England, and is famous for its miraculous beam (affording miraculous healings to all who touched it – it is now high up in the roof…) and its healings of the eyes (probably connected to the ancient Tutton’s Well in Stanpit, Christchurch, a mile distant, known for its waters of outstanding purity and health benefits especially for the eyes.)

Jenny Pipes – The Last Person Officially Punished on a Ducking Stool in England

In 1809 Jenny Pipes, who came from Leominster, was convicted of being a “common scold” and as such became the last person to suffer the indignity of being jeered through the town and given a soaking. The ducking stool is a powerful symbol of intolerance to women and a means of ridicule, humiliation, torture and even death. However, it wasn’t only women who got ducked. They also did it to tradesmen who sold adulterated food (appropriate for those working on and promoting genetically modified soya etc, and other adulterated foods today). Anyone, men or women, who was considered by the townsfolk, and subsequently by the Court Leet, to be in any way a menace to society, or who pushed the fringes of perception as considered moral and loyal to the Christian Church, as “workers in magick, sorcerie, herbes and paganistic rites” could be punished on the ducking stool.

This is the clinic in the ancient building where the carriage horses were kept in the olden times.

Here is Alan Hopking, the herbalist, leaning on the old ducking stool. And the information about the Ducking Stool outside the Ducking Stool Tea Rooms next door to our Herbalist Clinic. This is what it says:

“The Ducking Stool was a form of punishment for scolds and nagging wives used during the 15th – 18th centuries. The culprit who had been sentenced by the Court Leet, was raised and lowered into the mill stream as often as the sentence directed in order to cool her immoderate heat.
In 1986 the Court Leet was re-established as part of the centennial festival to celebrate Queen Victoria’s charter which confirmed the borough status of Christchurch. The ducking stool was re-made and placed in its original position in time for the centennial festival.
The Court Leet still meets once or twice a year to ‘beat the bounds’ and to hold a mock court to punish wrongdoers.”

Symptom and Symbol

Those were shameful times involving inadequate men (and perhaps immoderate women) but not deserving this cruel punishment. The ducking stool can now be seen as a symptom of mental and spiritual limitation perpetrated by peevish, myopic, wealthy governors, strutting about in fear and hatred, desiring the pure in heart to be tarnished by the muck of their own greed and egocentric guilt.

Herbactive, Herbalist on the Ducking Stool, clinic and shop, stands as a living symbol in defiance of this blinkered attitude and is proud to be standing for the new standards of morality – a wholesome life, open-mindedness, eating organic foods, drinking natural juices, good tea and local spring water, holding unfettered beliefs, respecting all living beings without prejudice, loving to walk and breathe in unspoilt nature, hugging trees, bowing and talking to humble herbs, feeling the warmth and strength of inner freedom, and enjoying companionship, laughter, beauty and fair play.


Witch persecutions in parts of Germany and England.
20,000 witches at least were executed in Germany, having been tortured and persecuted first. This compares with 500 in about the same spell of time in England. The very low level of English convictions is, amongst other things, laid down to the strength of the legal system and the effectiveness of juries. It is a forbidden thought, but one which nevertheless crept up, that the irrational persecution of an outsider group in parts of Germany in the 15th, 16th, 17th and indeed into the 18th centuries was not entirely unlike, and may perhaps not entirely be unconnected with, the irrationality of persecutions which led to the horror of the Holocaust. Melvyn Bragg, 22 October 2004

Go to Herbactive Herbalist’s personal statement