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School Discipline

Casterton School-Birching of females

In the Book “The Best type of girl-a history of independent schools” by Gillian Avery 1991 Andre Deutsch describes the flogging of girls by birch at Cowan Bridge(aka Casterton School)where Charlotte Bronte’s sister was” birched “as well as younger girls. Also, a school called Greycoat Charity hospital where girls, as well as boys, were “constantly flogged” and it was so severe that riots occurred and the Matron was arrested(for flogging). This however appears to be the sole reference in 300 years to the flogging by birch of females in Great Britain!(in School).
Not very encouraging to all those fantasists out there who imagine a somewhat more frequent scenario?


For a good 160 of your 300 years, girls were not educated at all.

Even into the middle Victorian period ie 1850-1870, all but the labouring classes would have used governesses to teach their daughters. Isn’t it actually Jane Eyre by one of the Bronte girls that is full of the governess telling children to fetch the birch?

In fact, if you view a book called Night’s Dark Angels(forgotten the author), you will find that, in London at least, in 1870-1880. the city had many spanking houses and a few spanking brothels.

Spanking houses advertised in the trade directories of the time and even in the better newspapers. They were presided over by a Madame, and were solely dedicated to spanking Victorian girls(up to the age of 21, too)whose parents were persuaded that their daughters could not have devilment etc beaten out of them at school, needed such beating for their moral betterment, and were reluctant to do it themselves.

The girl was stripped to her drawers by the houses’ servants and made to put on a dressing gown back to front. She would then be led to the block, the dressing gown removed by the servants, the girl planted over the block, and her drawers pulled down by Madame, who then laid on six of the birch. From previous posts, you’ll know I believe women lay it on far worse than men, and here’s more evidence!

All this was done in front of Pater and Mater, of course.

And yes, if I had a Tardis, you can guess where it might be set to visit first……………….!

Universal education act-we needs a historian, but I think it was 1872. The question is whether boys and girls in those elementary board schools which that act introduced were getting it in the neck equally, with what, etc.

Then, we need to fill in the period from there to the first World War and we will finally be sure about when the beating of girls in schools became a rare occurrence. It was definitely generally frowned on, even at primary level, by the time my Mum went to school(started 1932), whereas boys were expected to deserve and get it regularly, something which several of our fellow forum members will have seen and or experienced right up through to the early ’60s.

In other words, Bozo, this is a fascinating question and wouldn’t you just have loved the master of your career to give you some literature on becoming a spanking house proprietor?

Even better if they’d arranged a practical examination and Uni course on it!


There was a considerable correspondence in the Ladies Journal and other periodicals about all this at the time. However a lot of the pro-letters were often found to be fake gents masquerading as women-even in those days,
despite credulity, it seems birching of grown girls even then was never taken that seriously-the taboo on female nakedness and sex was just too strong.
The Victorians weren’t stupid and were well aware that a fat bare bum
was just plain rude and erotic!


You will find a great deal of this verified, along with other interesting(or disgusting) details of the Victorian sex trade in the Parliamentary & Judicial report into the White Slave scandal.

What it did was to result in the imprisonment of a crusading journalist who purchased a 12-year-old girl from a brothel. And in the age of consent being raised from 12 to 14.

Don’t forget this was also an era when a husband could legally beat his wife, provided the cane he used was not beyond a certain thickness.

Crazy, possibly a little politically incorrect, but true. This book was not a particularly salacious one, despite its’ overall tone. It dealt with all the various cruelties our ancestors practised on children. You don’t need to read Dickens to know that the professional birching of daughters for the Chelsea Tractor drivers of those days was a pretty minor part of that cruelty.


Yes, it is accurate that in her books the birching is described as being on the neck-however I can reveal that in the professional opinion of a leading public school English Literature Sixth Form Master(who later became Head of Shrewsbury Public School I think), this is, in fact, may be a euphemism used by Charlotte Bronte in place of the buttocks.!A book containing a description or even reference to birching on the bottom of a girl would never have passed her publishers and was considered far too indelicate for her readers of Ladies
and Gentlefolk. Descriptions of bare-bottom birchings did exist and even colour plate drawings but these were relegated to the realm of pornography for servants.
Regarding the Casterton case, a strange pamphlet does exist called
“A refutation of the statements in The Life of Charlotte Bronte regarding the Casterton Clergy Daughters School when at Cowan Bridge” by William Carus Wilson,(Headmaster) .J.Whereat 1857.
So it seems to get to the bottom of this has 2 sides.


Hmm possibly Wolfgang, would that not also suggest the waist at the top where the slop of the lower back meets the top of the buttocks? Surely a dangerous place “above”the mid-buttock line…
Ladies in those days wore dresses that were bare on a large portion of the neck all around, decollate front.
perhaps rather than the neck, it means more the top of the fleshy rear back and shoulders,?
A birching upon here would have the added ease of no clothing having to be removed or only the back top of the dress partially unzipped as shown in the mysteries flagellation mural in Pompeii where a lady is shown being whipped upon the whole bareback, as the area would be bare anyway?


CP of schoolgirls is still fairly common today but kept secret. We had it in my school. It was the prerogative of the headmaster. A female teacher was supposed to be present when the punishment was on the bare buttocks to maintain a modicum of decorum. However, she may not always be present. One had to lean over the desk and your skirts would be tucked in the waistband, then the panties pulled down, and you took your strokes wriggling all over with the pain. Absolutely humiliating to young teen girls when their legs flew all over the place, and their secret places revealed

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