Woman being ducked in water.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

A ducking stool is a device usually reserved for the punishment of disorderly or scolding women and dishonest tradesmen. It is often considered to be synonymous with the cucking stool,[1] the use of which did not require the immersion of the victim in water, merely his or her public humiliation.[2]

The ducking stool consists of a seesaw-like structure with a stout wooden chair at one end of a long pole. The offender was fastened to the chair and then immersed several times in a convenient nearby body of water.[3]

The device was often fitted with wheels, so that the offender could be processed through the town on the way to the river or pond, as was the case with Jenny Pipes in 1809, the last recorded victim of a ducking stool in England. She was paraded through the streets of Leominster before being dunked in the river near Kenwater Bridge. The Leominster ducking stool is now on display in Leominster Priory.[3]



Dancey-Downs. “When Authorities Dunked Outspoken Women in Water.” Smithsonian Magazine, 19 July 2022, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/when-authorities-dunked-outspoken-women-in-water-180980428/.
Friar, Stephen. The Local History Companion. The History Press, 2001.
Knowles, Elizabeth. “Ducking Stool.” Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Online, Oxford University Press, 2006, https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780198609810.001.0001/acref-9780198609810-e-4935.