The Way it used to be in Victorian Times

By Lisamum

The year is 1875 and Mrs Askew, the wife of an eminent doctor, was taking the air near to her home in a fashionable part of London. As she passed a row of large terraced houses, she noticed a house with a brass plate next to the door, which she hadn’t seen before. Curiosity got the better of her and she mounted the three steps to the door to read the plate.

It said:

Mrs D Massey Professional Chastiser.

She shrugged and moved on. The following week she was sitting in her lounge browsing through her ladies magazine when an advertisement caught her eye.

It read:

Are you having trouble with your daughter? Does she need firm correction? If so, contact Mrs D Massey, 36 Prince Regent Street, London.

‘That’s the house that I passed last week,’ thought Mrs Askew. ‘Perhaps I should pay her a call. Winifred has become troublesome of late and some firm discipline would do her good.’

So the next day Mrs Askew paid a visit.

“Do come in,” said Mrs Massey.

Mrs Askew stepped inside.

“Let me take your coat.”

Mrs Askew took off her hat and coat and handed it to Mrs Massey. She guessed that Mrs Massey was probably a lady in her fifties, well built, with piercing blue eyes and dark hair. Then she was led along the hall, down the stairs to the basement and into a room that served as Mrs Massey’s office. She was then offered a seat.

“How may I be of service?” Asked Mrs Massey.

“I saw your advertisement in my ladies magazine and so I thought I would come and find out what you could offer in the way of chastisement for my daughter?”

“Yes, of course. Perhaps the best way of explaining it is to show you where the chastisement takes place. Would you like to accompany me?”

“Yes please.”

Mrs Massey led Mrs Askew out of the room and into an adjacent room. The room had no window but had whitewashed walls and a small table in the corner. There were two gas lamps on each of two of the walls giving the room a fairly well lit feeling.

“This is the preparation room. My young assistant will undress your daughter and put her into one of these gowns ready for her chastisement.”

Hanging from hooks on the wall was a selection of white cotton full length gowns with ties all the way down.

“How old is your daughter by the way?” Asked Mrs Massey.

“She has just attained the age of eighteen.”

“I find that between the ages of sixteen and eighteen are the most popular ages for my services,” said Mrs Massey.

“Do you find much demand for your services?” asked Mrs Askew.

“Not so far, but then I have only just moved to this address. At my previous address I had many customers. I can show you my book of references from satisfied clients if you wish.”

“No, I’m sure that will not be necessary,” smiled Mrs Askew.

“Shall we move on to the next room?” said Mrs Massey, ushering Mrs Askew out.

“This is the chastisement room,” said Mrs Massey as she led Mrs Askew in.

The room was a larger room than the previous one with a large wooden contraption in the middle.

“This is the birching stool, although I only use the birch if the client insists upon it.”

The birching stool, was in fact an upright wooden structure which the recipient would lean against and would cause them to be bent slightly forward from the waist. Protruding forward from the top were two flat wooden arms upon which the recipient would lay their arms and then the wrists would be tied to the ends.

“I think you can see the position your daughter would adopt to be chastised,” said Mrs Massey.

“Yes, I see,” said Mrs Askew.

“As you can see, there is a collection of canes hanging from the walls. You are at liberty to select the one with which I would administer the chastisement. On the other hand, you may leave the selection to me,” said Mrs Massey.

“That all seems very satisfactory,” said Mrs Askew as she cast her eye along the rows of canes.

“Now the final room in the process,” said Mrs Massey, leading Mrs Askew to the room opposite. “This is the recovery room. I find that often a girl is very distressed after their chastisement and some even faint during or after it has taken place, so we allow them in here to recover.”

Mrs Askew looked around. Down one wall was a bed with a small table at the top end. On the table was a glass decanter containing water, a glass, and a bottle of smelling salts.

“The punishments must be severe,” observed Mrs Askew.

“Yes indeed. The number of strokes of the cane can be as little as three to as much as twenty-four, delivered to their bare bottom.”

Mrs Askew winced at this. “I don’t think I shall be subjecting my daughter to those extremes.”

“Of course the severity is entirely your choice. You may witness the chastisement and stop it at any time of your choosing, or you may wish to wait in the office,” offered Mrs Massey.

“I shall decide what to do at the time,” said Mrs Askew.

Mrs Massey then led her client back to the office. “Have you any questions?”

“Yes. When may I bring my daughter?”

“My hours are between ten and twelve in the morning, two and four in the afternoon, and six until eight in the evening, Monday to Saturday. I don’t guarantee to always be here at those hours so I do advise making an appointment, but you may turn up unannounced. If you would care to take this pamphlet with all the details on, including my fees.”

Mrs Askew gratefully accepted the pamphlet and went on her way home. Now it was a question of waiting until daughter Winifred misbehaved again.

It was in fact, some weeks before Winifred transgressed. Mrs Askew was looking out of the window overlooking the back entrance to the house when the delivery boy from the butcher arrived. To Mrs Askew’s disgust, Winifred spent some minutes in conversation with him so she rang the bell for the maid.

“You rang, Madam?” Said Trixie, the maid.

“Yes, would you tell my daughter to come to me immediately?”

“Certainly madam.”

Trixie disappeared and was soon replaced by Winifred.

“I have just been observing you from this window. How many times have I told you not to speak to errand boys? Have you no dignity, consorting with the working classes?”

“I only exchanged pleasantries with him, Mother.”

“Girls of your station in life do not condescend to speak to errand boys.”

“But he’s nice, not like other boys.”

“Don’t be so ridiculous,” said Mrs Askew angrily.

“If you must know, I like him,” retorted Winifred.

“You stupid girl, next thing you’ll be telling me you are forming an affection for him.”

“So what if I am, I’m not a child,” protested Winifred.

“How dare you address me in that fashion, In this house you are a child until you reach the age of maturity at twenty-one,” said Mrs Askew angrily. “You have disobeyed my instructions once too often, you will be soundly punished.”

Mrs Askew rang the bell, went to the writing desk in the room and took out the pamphlet from Mrs Massey. “Trixie, you will go to this address and make the earliest appointment for me with Mrs Massey,” said Mrs Askew after Trixie had appeared.

“Yes, Madam.”

“Winifred, you will go to your room and stay there until I tell you.”

Trixie went off. Winifred was about to argue but thought better of it and followed Trixie out.

Half an hour later Trixie was back. “Your appointment is at three o’clock this afternoon, Madam.”

“Thank you, Trixie. Would you go to Winifred’s room and tell her to attend here immediately.

“Yes, madam.”

Trixie disappeared and Winifred came a few minutes later.

“Winifred, you will report to me here at two-thirty this afternoon when you will accompany me to Mrs Massey. There you will be whipped for willful disobedience.”

Winifred gasped. “No Mother, no, not that, please.”

“Do not argue with me, my mind is made up. Go to your room and remain there until luncheon.”

Mrs Askew was not a lady to argue with and Winifred knew it. She left her Mother’s presence with head bowed.

At two-thirty precisely, a worried and nervous looking Winifred appeared in her mother’s drawing room, dressed in hat and coat.

“Come, Winifred,” said Mrs Askew going downstairs to be given her hat and coat by Trixie. Then mother and daughter walked in silence to Mrs Massey’s. On arrival Mrs Massey took hats and coats and then led Mrs Askew and Winifred downstairs to the office.

“Do sit down, Mrs Askew,”

Mrs Askew sat, and Winifred was left to stand at her side.

“I need to take some particulars,” said Mrs Massey, opening a thick ledger. Your daughter’s name and age please.”

“Winifred, aged eighteen.”

“And you wish me to use a cane?”

“Yes please.”

“How many strokes?”

Mrs Askew paused for a moment. “I think that eight will suffice on this occasion.”

Winifred gasped, and the colour started to drain from her face.

“Will you be choosing the cane and witnessing the chastisement?”

“I’ll choose one on your advice, and I will attend the chastisement.”

Mrs Massey pulled a cord hanging from the ceiling and in a few moments a young woman, not a lot older than Winifred, appeared.

“Elsie, will you prepare this girl please.” There was something cold and heartless about the way Mrs Massey spoke, as if Winifred was just an item, not an individual.

“Yes, Mrs Massey. Come this way,” she said taking Winifred by the arm.

As she left, Winifred looked wistfully at her mother as if to be pleading for mercy.

“Elsie will tell us when your daughter is ready,” said Mrs Massey.

In the preparation room, Elsie got to work.

“I shall undress you, place you in a gown and take you next door to the punishment room,” said Elsie.

She removed Winifred’s blouse and skirt. Then she unlaced Winifred’s corset, detaching the suspenders from her black woollen stockings. Finally, her flannel petticoat and drawers. Then with Winifred standing naked, she selected the appropriate sized gown and instructed Winifred to put it on back to front with the ties at the back. She then tied them up and Winifred was ready. The room was quite cold and Winifred was shivering, although not from the temperature but from fear. Elsie then led the trembling Winifred to the next room. Inside she told Winifred to stand against the equipment with the front of her legs firmly against it. Then to lean forward against it and place her arms outstretched on the two wooden supports. She then secured Winifred’s wrists to the supports by means of pink ribbons, tied tightly.

“I shall now inform Mrs Massey that you are ready,” said Elsie.

Elsie left the room and Winifred started to weep quietly as she waited. Within a few minutes, Mrs Massey entered, accompanied by Mrs Askew and Elsie, who would witness the chastisement and render any assistance necessary.

Winifred looked up at her mother. “Please Mother, spare me, I’ll promise I’ll never speak to him again.”

Her mother looked disparagingly at her daughter and refrained from comment.

“Now Mrs Askew, it is time for you to select the rod of discipline,” said Mrs Massey, leading Mrs Askew to the rows of canes on display. “At this end are the thinnest and whippiest.” Mrs Massey took down one of the canes and gave it a swish, which brought a whimper from Winifred. “This will impart a sting but will cause little or no damage to the skin. At this end are the thick heavy ones which will cause pain and bruising.” Again, Mrs Massey took down a cane and gave it a swipe, which gave a deep whooshing sound. Winifred offered up a quick prayer that her mother would choose the thin one.

“So, Mrs Askew, will you decide or shall I?”

“I think eight strokes of the thin cane will suffice,” replied Mrs Askew.

“Would you like to select one?” Said Mrs Massey.

Mrs Askew ran her finger over the canes, watched anxiously by Winifred through tear-filled eyes. Finally, she opted for one of the longer ones.

“A good choice, if I may say so,” commented Mrs Massey. She then went over to take up her position beside Winifred. “Elsie, will you prepare the girl.”

Elsie stepped forward and undid the ties down the back of the gown, parted it and tucked the sides between Winifred and the apparatus. Winifred shuddered as she felt the cold air all the way from head to toe. Her naked bottom was exposed and ready to receive the rod. Mrs Massey adjusted her stance, paused for a moment and then whipped the cane across Winifred’s tender pink bottom. A piercing scream came from Winifred’s lips. Mrs Massey waited for the pain to sink in and flexed the cane several times while she waited. Then she whipped the cane across a second time, with the scream following. Winifred tried to move but could only raise her leg at the knee. Mrs Massey continued showing no sign of emotion. The cane continued to lash down and the white stripes across Winifred’s bottom started to turn to an angry red. As the stripes changed, so did Mrs Askew’s face, from total indifference to her daughter’s plight to a worried look.

“That’s enough,” shouted Mrs Askew after stroke number seven.

“Are you sure, Mrs Askew?” Asked Mrs Massey.

Mrs Askew nodded.

Mrs Massey walked over and replaced the cane. “Would you accompany me to the office,” she said to Mrs Askew. “Elsie, see to the girl.”

Mrs Massey strode from the office followed by Mrs Askew. Elsie, who had been standing quietly in the corner, went over to Winifred, who lay sobbing and groaning against the apparatus. She pulled the gown over Winifred’s back and tied the ties together. Then she released her wrists. “Come this way,” she said, gently leading Winifred, who was very unsteady on her feet, out of the room and into the recovery room. “Would you like a drink of water?” Asked Elsie. Winifred nodded, and Elsie poured her a glass, which she gulped down.

“Lay down on the bed and rest for a minute,” said Elsie.

Winifred lay down on her side and ran her hand over her throbbing bottom. Her whole body was still shaking with tension. Very slowly, she stopped crying and her body returned to normal.

“Shall I dress you now?” Asked Elsie.

“Yes please,” replied Winifred, at last finding her voice. Elsie fetched the clothes from the preparation room and slowly put Winifred’s clothes back on.

“I’ll take you back to your mother now,” said Elsie.

“Thank you, Elsie, you’ve been very kind,” said Winifred.

Elsie just smiled and then led Winifred back to her mother, her ordeal finally over.

Footnote: This story is pure fiction but based on fact. Evidence for this can be found in the correspondence pages of The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine where mothers wrote in, many giving descriptions of the whipping of their daughters.

The End

© Lisamum 2015