Scold's bridle

Made:
1550-1800 in Germany
maker:
Unknown

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Scold's bridle mask which partially covers face, large nose-piece and jagged mouth, hinged neck ring and bell suspended at top of head, probably German, 1550-1800

This item is one of the more disturbing objects in Henry Wellcome’s collection. A ‘Scold’s bridle’ is a fearsome looking mask which fits tightly on to the head. A scold was defined as a “rude, clamorous woman”. The bridle was used as a punishment for women considered to be spending too much time gossiping or quarrelling. Time spent in the bridle was normally allocated as a punishment by a local magistrate.

The custom developed in Britain in the 1500s, and spread to some other European countries, including Germany. When wearing the mask it was impossible to speak. This example has a bell on top to draw even more attention to the wearer, increasing their humiliation. It was used until the early 1800s as a punishment in workhouses.

Details

Category:
Wellcome (general)
Object Number:
A138325
Materials:
complete, iron
type:
scold's bridle, torture scold's bridle, torture
credit:
Glendining

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