Sorry story of a relic of a past Hackney horror

St Augustine tower Narrow Wayu/Mare Street Hackney London E8 © david.altheer[at]
Pillory reconstruction © Hackney Society
Ready for a bad whipping: how the pillory might have looked in the church grounds

THAT EXCELLENT guardian of our past, the Hackney Society, has launched a campaign to save a grim reminder of a time when punishment was primitive.

In the 1800s this pilloryOK, let’s use the more brutal term, the whipping poststood near St John-at-Hackney not far from the tower pictured at top, until 1999, when vandals had a go at it.

For questionable reasons, and with the sanction of Hackney council, the pillory was put into the care of environmental charity Groundwork.

Some people might wish the vandals had been apprehended and jammed in the whipping post. Others might want to see council officers put there, because the supposed safekeeping comprised Groundwork’s depositing the pillory in the garden behind Groundwork’s Lower Clapton Road offices.

© HacSoc
Sad state: the whipping post, which once stood near St John’s, when it was recovered in 2015

The Hackney Society’s Sean Gubbins says there pillories  remain there, rotting”.

With the help of other local history-lovers, the society has at least got hold of a tarpaulin to keep the rain off the pillory and it has obtained restoration-and-conservation cost estimates.

Two problems: (1) where to dry the whipping post so it is in a state to be restored and (2) who owns it, the Church of England or Hackney council?

The answer to both could be Hackney council but bureaucratic impasses are preventing answers’ emerging. Meanwhile, the whipping post deteriorates.

Perhaps, in a reversion to Georgian-era justice, three of the council’s top-whack executives could be handcuffed to the pillory and given a more basic top whack. That might move things on a bit.

David Altheer 260116

* Anyone who can offer a temporary refuge for the whipping post should contact

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* Interest declaration: David Altheer is a Hackney Society member.

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