Exhibit of week: Truant’s clog used for punishment

Exhibit of the week''w140613b
Exhibit of the week''w140613b

This week I’ve chosen an item of punishment, designed more to humiliate than injure – though the wooden clog is heavy enough to slow down and bruise any leg daft enough to try to run.

This is the truant’s clog from the Mount School for boys, at the top of Whitby’s Cliff Street.

Exhibit of the week''w140613a

Exhibit of the week''w140613a

The school started on Church Street in 1810, moving to Cliff Street in 1821, and was run on Lancasterian principles. This was an educational movement led by John Lancaster (1778-1838) which used the monitor system.

A small number of older students were taught by a master, and then they in turn taught the younger students.

In this way a small number of schoolmasters could teach large numbers of students across all ages, skills and ability, at low cost. Though highly influential until about 1830, it was gradually replaced by the ‘lecture’ system in use today, with students grouped by age.

A girl’s school opened further down Cliff Street in 1824; both closed in March 1963 but are ‘fondly’ remembered by many in the town.

The Mount, after a period as an antique centre, is now a dance centre, and the girl’s school is now a car park.

Ironically, John Lancaster himself was opposed to corporal punishment, and it is evidently from the time after his system had expired that this clog belongs.

We do not know exactly how old it is, but it was given to Whitby Museum in 1935 by Mr WM Horne, of the Whitby Gazette.

Like the Japanese boat shown a couple of weeks ago, this piece was shown on BBC Going for a Song in March 2000.