Riding The Stange
‘This is another species of popular punishment which formerly prevailed at Beverley, but is now deservedly fallen into desuetude. The ceremony was performed when a husband had been guilty of beating his wife, or vice versa ; and was as follows. A considerable number of dissolute young men, attended by shoals of children, assemble about eight o’clock in the evening, near the unfortunate person’s door, to whose honour the performance is specially dedicated, with broken kettles and pans, cow’s horns and whistles, and other noisy and discordant instruments, on which a perpetual drumming, blowing, and rattling forms the most hideous concert that can be conceived, accompanied, as it is, by the shouts and yells of the whole group. The most important personage in the assembly is ” the rider,” who, mounted astride across a ladder, which is carried on men’s shoulders, repeats in the intervals of the vocal and instrumental performance some doggrel rhymes descriptive of the cause for which the revel rout is assembled. These rhymes run in the following strain :
With a ran, dan, dan, at the sign of the old tin can,
For neither your case, nor my case do I ride the stange.
For Johnny has been beating his wife
He beat her, he bang’d her, he bang’d her indeed.
He bang’d her, poor creature, before she stood need, etc., etc., etc.
After the rehearsal of this doggrel by the gentleman of the stange, the yells and drummings and sounding of horns and whistles strike up, and the whole party move in procession to another part of the town where the rhymes are repeated, and the same ceremony again takes place that the community at large may enjoy the full advantage of the performance. The ” stange ” is generally repeated for three nights, when the offender is left at liberty either to treat his wife with greater tenderness for the time to come, or, if he thinks proper, to renew the affront, in which latter case the castigation is sure to be again awarded to him with increased virulence. The custom is unchristian-like, and has been very properly suppressed. [County Folklore Vol VI (1911) edited by Mrs Glutch quoting George Olive’s The History and Antiquities of the Town and Minster of Beverley in the County of York (1829).]