Riding the Stang in Southwell

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Riding the Stang in Southwell' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Riding the Stang in Southwell' page

An Old English Custom with a local twist

The following account appears in a booklet titled “Nottinghamshire Facts and Fictions” by John Potter BRISCOE published by Shepherd Brothers of Nottingham in 1870)

"If a husband is known to beat his wife, or allow himself to be “henpecked”, &c., the offender, if living in a village, will probably soon be serenaded with a rough concert of “music”.

This is produced by men, women, and children of the village assembling, each provided with a frying pan, warming pan, and tea kettles, which are drummed with a key; iron pot lids serve as cymbals; fire shovels and tongs contribute to the noise; pokers or marrow bones; in fact, anything with which a loud, harsh, and discordant sound can be produced.

"If a husband is known to beat his wife, or allow himself to be “henpecked”, &c., the offender, if living in a village, will probably soon be serenaded with a rough concert of “music”.

Thus provided, the villagers proceed to the house of the culprit and salute him or her with an outburst of their music. This custom still lingers in most parts of the county.

The following is a brief description of “stang riding”, as practised near Southwell forty-four years ago [ie c.1830]. The practice was that when any man had been beating his wife his effigy was made and placed in a cart, and drawn through the village by the people, shouting these lines, accompanied by the beating of the cans, &c.:

With a ran, tan, tan,

This man has been licking [ie beating] his good, his good woman, 

For what, and for why?

For eating so much when hungry,

And drinking so much when dry.

With a ran, tan, tan.

After going the round of the village the effigy was brought to the door of the house of the offending husband, and there set on fire. The following lines were intoned by the leader of the stang riders of North Nottinghamshire about fifty years ago [ie c.1820]:-

With a ran, dan, dan,

Sign o’ my owd frying pan,

A brazen-faced villain has been paying his best wo-man;

He neither paid her wi’ stick, stake, nor a stower,

But he up wi’ his fisses, an’ he knocked her ower.

                        With a ran, dan, dan.

Come all you owd wimmin, come all you wimmin-kind,

You get together an’ be in a mind;

Be in a mind your husban’s to gang,

And you may depend upon’t I shall ride th’ stang.

                        And if he does th’ like again,

                        As I suppose he will,

                        I’ll set him on a nanny-goat,

                        An’ he shall ride to hell.

Other stang riding doggerels might be added, but we have given enough to give our readers a sufficient idea of their character".

 

 

 

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