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WHO WAS JENNY PIPES?
Jenny Pipes was the last woman in England to be ducked as a legal punishment.
Also known as Jane Corran by virtue of her marriage to John Corran, she was a member of the poor community of Leominster in the early 19th Century. She was just able to eke out a living independent of the workhouse but that was no thanks to him.
Not one to keep her opinions to herself, Jenny Pipes was vocal in her accusations about her husband's ill-treatment. Her brother-in-law, in whose house they were living, took exception to this and reported her to the local magistrates, whose conviction led them to determine that Jenny Pipes should suffer the ancient punishment of the ducking stool.
The original ducking stool, used
for Jenny Pipes, can still be seen
in Leominster Priory!
She was sentenced to be paraded through the streets secured in the seat of the machine high above the jeering, mocking crowd that had gathered. The route of her disgrace lead, embarrassingly for her, past her own home and down to the banks of the Kenwater river. To cries of “Duck the scold” from the excited crowd, she was submerged in the icy water twice.
The idea of the ducking was to curb the tongue of the offender; the ducking to continue until the culprit either gave up, was exhausted or lost consciousness. After both duckings, Jenny Pipes was still hurling torrents of abuse at the magistrates when the punishment was stopped, by which time the crowd, having had their entertainment for the day, began to disperse.
All this happened in 1809. One wonders if Sarah Leake was part of that crowd. A few years later she too was given the ducking stool treatment, being paraded through the town but not actually ducked as the water was too shallow.
As a tribute to Jenny Pipes’ spirit, the side decided to use her name and wrote a dance in her memory which symbolises the movement of the ducking stool and the rippling of the water and the dance is done in the shape of the Leominster knot.
Jenny Pipes Morris side was formed by local women dancers over 35 years ago. Unlike the original 'Jenny Pipes', nowadays we leave out the torrents of verbal abuse, although we are rightly considered to be a group of 'feisty individuals' who always remember our heritage
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