The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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July 2018

From the archives….. Were you caned at school?

Judy East

That question might shock younger readers but for those of a certain age it’s more likely to evoke a stinging sensation on certain parts of the anatomy.  I always suspected that a ruler on the hand (girls) was probably far more painful than a caning, because, after all, in the enlightened times when I was at junior school,  boys didn’t have to expose bare flesh.  The Punishment Book for 1951-1964 (Hampstead Parochial, we’re not talking Sunday school here!) lists particular behaviours meriting physical punishment, and equality having won, it was all on the hand or the leg, so equally painful!  Judging by the number of times certain names appear it didn’t do much good.  “Climbing on the roof” was popular, as was “rough play”, and a variety of fights; one of my favourites is “sending a small boy out to buy sweets”. I don’t know how much comfort I derive from the thought that somewhere there might be a similar book listing my misdemeanours. 

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