The Rochester House of Correction + Whipping Post


The Rochester House of Correction + Whipping Post

In its time the Six Poor Travellers has fulfilled a range of roles. In addition to providing accommodation for poor travellers it has been an orphanage and a ‘house of correction’.

The doorway facing you as you leave the dinning room in the Six Poor Travellers, leads down some steep steps to the House of Correction. The floor of this ‘cellar’ is at the level of them old Roman road and still has clearly visible  placement holes where the stocks whipping-post had been located. The whipping post can still be viewed in the Guildhall Museum. The sink you can see in the inside passageway emptied into the House of Correction below.

The House of Correction was largely used for short sentences to punish people for minor crimes - but by today’s standards the punishment was extreme for the ‘crime’ - for instance:

In 1657 the Mayor of Rochester, Richard Wye J.P. committed Alice Towers to the House of Correction for leaving the service of Arthur Brooker, an innkeeper, before her time was finished. Alice appealed against this and sued the Mayor, in the High Court, for wrongful imprisonment. She won her case and the Lord Chief Justice decreed that the Mayor was to pay Alice £25 damages and all costs. - about £1,800 in today’s money.

Rochester closed its house of correction for a while but was reopened in 1711 because lewd and disorderly persons were causing ‘great disorder’. It closed in again 1793 - but the Keeper, Henry Web refused to leave, but he was finally ‘ejected’ in 1798.

(Information from accessed 12 March 2017.)

Whipping was at first carried out in public - both to punish the ‘offender’ and to act as a deterrent. Judicial flogging of women ended in 1820 and public flogging ended in the 1830s - but continued to remain a penalty that a high court could pass this sentence. At the time the Rochester whipping post was in use (17th & 18th centuries) magistrates had what could be regarded as a common-law right to order a whipping. One misdemeanour that could result in a whipping was a traveller entering a parish without the means to support themselves; they could find themselves sentenced to a whipping and being returned to the parish they came from. It was for this reason that travellers leaving the Six Poor Travellers were given 4d when they left on their travels.  

house of correction door rochester kent cream

Explore the House of Correction in Virtual Reality:

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