ducking stool

The Ducking Stool

I moved from this site to New Milton in 2011, but I have a good feeling for my Ducking Stool Clinic where I practiced for nearly 20 years. But it is loved by tourists because of the ducking stool in the Mill Stream. So I've left this page here.

The Way to
the Herbalist on the Ducking Stool

Walk down the cobbled lane, called The Drum, between the oldest pub in Christchurch, Ye Olde George Inne (which sells the best real ales in the area), leading to Ducking Stool Lane and the Ducking Stool. These pictures show the different views from the Herbal Clinic towards the ducking stool. You'll also see the ducking stool itself and Alan Hopking the herbalist on the ducking stool. Visit our other pages for more pictures inside our famous old apothecary and clinic.

Ducking Stool, mechanism used in England and America, invented in the 15th century and used into the early 19th century, for the punishment of scolds and troublesome people (including herbalists). The culprit was raised and lowered into the water. It was grossly unpleasant, and often fatal. Come and look for yourself at the Christchurch Ducking Stool on Mill Stream near to Herbactive Herbalist and see if you're not incredulous.

This picture shows you where the ducking stool was (and is) placed - it is on the Mill Stream, the small waterway at the very base of this picture (ducking stool not shown). In the centre is the famous old Christchurch Castle (now in ruins); at the top of the picture is the great Augustine monastery (only the Priory Trinity Church remains (which has the longest nave in England, and is famous for its miraculous beam (affording miraculous healings to all who touched it - it is now high up in the roof...) and its healings of the eyes (probably connected to the ancient Tutton's Well in Stanpit, Christchurch, a mile distant, known for its waters of outstanding purity and health benefits especially for the eyes.)

Jenny Pipes - The Last Person Officially Punished on a Ducking Stool in England

In 1809 Jenny Pipes, who came from Leominster, was convicted of being a "common scold" and as such became the last person to suffer the indignity of being jeered through the town and given a soaking. The ducking stool is a powerful symbol of intolerance to women and a means of ridicule, humiliation, torture and even death. However, it wasn't only women who got ducked. They also did it to tradesmen who sold adulterated food (appropriate for those working on and promoting genetically modified soya etc, and other adulterated foods today). Anyone, men or women, who was considered by the townsfolk, and subsequently by the Court Leet, to be in any way a menace to society, or who pushed the fringes of perception as considered moral and loyal to the Christian Church, as "workers in magick, sorcerie, herbes and paganistic rites" could be punished on the ducking stool.

This is the clinic in the ancient building where the carriage horses were kept in the olden times.

Here is Alan Hopking, the herbalist, leaning on the old ducking stool. And the information about the Ducking Stool outside the Ducking Stool Tea Rooms next door to our Herbalist Clinic. This is what it says:

"The Ducking Stool was a form of punishment for scolds and nagging wives used during the 15th - 18th centuries. The culprit who had been sentenced by the Court Leet, was raised and lowered into the mill stream as often as the sentence directed in order to cool her immoderate heat.
In 1986 the Court Leet was re-established as part of the centennial festival to celebrate Queen Victoria's charter which confirmed the borough status of Christchurch. The ducking stool was re-made and placed in its original position in time for the centennial festival.
The Court Leet still meets once or twice a year to 'beat the bounds' and to hold a mock court to punish wrongdoers."

Symptom and Symbol

Those were shameful times involving inadequate men (and perhaps immoderate women) but not deserving this cruel punishment. The ducking stool can now be seen as a symptom of mental and spiritual limitation perpetrated by peevish, myopic, wealthy governors, strutting about in fear and hatred, desiring the pure in heart to be tarnished by the muck of their own greed and egocentric guilt.

Herbactive, Herbalist on the Ducking Stool, clinic and shop, stands as a living symbol in defiance of this blinkered attitude and is proud to be standing for the new standards of morality - a wholesome life, open-mindedness, eating organic foods, drinking natural juices, good tea and local spring water, holding unfettered beliefs, respecting all living beings without prejudice, loving to walk and breathe in unspoilt nature, hugging trees, bowing and talking to humble herbs, feeling the warmth and strength of inner freedom, and enjoying companionship, laughter, beauty and fair play.


Witch persecutions in parts of Germany and England.
20,000 witches at least were executed in Germany, having been tortured and persecuted first. This compares with 500 in about the same spell of time in England. The very low level of English convictions is, amongst other things, laid down to the strength of the legal system and the effectiveness of juries. It is a forbidden thought, but one which nevertheless crept up, that the irrational persecution of an outsider group in parts of Germany in the 15th, 16th, 17th and indeed into the 18th centuries was not entirely unlike, and may perhaps not entirely be unconnected with, the irrationality of persecutions which led to the horror of the Holocaust. Melvyn Bragg, 22 October 2004

Go to Herbactive Herbalist's personal statement





Our herbal tonic medicines are carefully prepared on a personal and individual basis for your healing by medical herbalist Alan Hopking MA MNIMH FINEH.

Only whole herbs are used in our herbal medicines. Nothing else is added. If you have symptoms which you consider might be helped with herbal medicine please contact herbal practitioner Alan Hopking for a friendly confidential professional consultation. See terms and fees.

Once you have received your herbal prescription you can contact Alan Hopking at any time for more free advice (preferably by email). When you have completed your bottle of herbal medicine and if you want a repeat prescription you are requested to phone or email so that your progress can be assessed and adjustments made if necessary so that there is no break in your treatment. To order or re-order, click here.

MRCHM - see Alan Hopking's statement about renouncing his association with membership of this organisation

HERBACTIVE Centre of Herbal Medicine, England, UK. Freephone 0800 0834436

General advice to consumers on the use of herbal remedies from the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency ( Department of Health, UK

• Remember that herbal remedies are medicines. As with any other medicine they are likely to have an effect on the body and should be used with care. • Herbal remedies may sometimes interact with other medicines. This makes it particularly important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking a herbal remedy with other medicines such as prescribed medicines (those provided through your doctor or dentist). • Treat with caution any suggestion that a herbal remedy is '100% safe' or is 'safe because it is natural'. Many plants, trees, fungi and algae can be poisonous to humans. It is worth remembering that many pharmaceuticals have been developed or derived from these sources because of the powerful compounds they contain. Any medicine, including herbal remedies, which have an effect on the body should be used with care. • Treat with caution any herbalist or other person who supplies herbal remedies if they are unwilling or unable to provide written information, in English, listing the ingredients of the herbal remedy they are providing. • If you are due to have a surgical operation you should always remember to tell your doctor about any herbal remedy that you are taking. • Anyone who has previously experienced any liver complaint, or any other serious health complaint is advised not to take any herbal remedy without speaking to their doctor first.


Pregnant/Breast-feeding mothers

Few conventional medicines have been established as safe to take during pregnancy and it is generally recognised that no medicine should be taken unless the benefit to the mother outweighs any possible risk to the foetus. This rule should also be applied to herbal medicinal products. However, herbal products are often promoted to the public as being “natural” and completely “safe” alternatives to conventional medicines. Some herbal ingredients that specifically should be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy. As with conventional medicines, no herbal products should be taken during pregnancy unless the benefit outweighs the potential risk.

Volatile Oils

Many herbs are traditionally reputed to be abortifacient and for some this reputation can be attributed to their volatile oil component.(6) A number of volatile oils are irritant to the genito-urinary tract if ingested and may induce uterine contractions. Herbs that contain irritant volatile oils include ground ivy, juniper, parsley, pennyroyal, sage, tansy and yarrow. Some of these oils contain the terpenoid constituent, thujone, which is known to be abortifacient. Pennyroyal oil also contains the hepatotoxic terpenoid constituent, pulegone. A case of liver failure in a woman who ingested pennyroyal oil as an abortifacient has been documented.


A stimulant or spasmolytic action on uterine muscle has been documented for some herbal ingredients including blue cohosh, burdock, fenugreek, golden seal, hawthorn, jamaica dogwood, motherwort, nettle, raspberry, and vervain. Herbal Teas Increased awareness of the harmful effects associated with excessive tea and coffee consumption has prompted many individuals to switch to herbal teas. Whilst some herbal teas may offer pleasant alternatives to tea and coffee, some contain pharmacologically active herbal ingredients, which may have unpredictable effects depending on the quantity of tea consumed and strength of the brew. Some herbal teas contain laxative herbal ingredients such as senna, frangula, and cascara. In general stimulant laxative preparations are not recommended during pregnancy and the use of unstandardised laxative preparations is particularly unsuitable. A case of hepatotoxicity in a newborn baby has been documented in which the mother consumed a herbal tea during pregnancy as an expectorant. Following analysis the herbal tea was reported to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are known to be hepatotoxic.

Breast-feeding mothers

A drug substance taken by a breast-feeding mother presents a hazard if it is transferred to the breast milk in pharmacologically or toxicologically significant amounts. Limited information is available regarding the safety of conventional medicines taken during breast-feeding. Much less information exists for herbal ingredients, and generally the use of herbal remedies is not recommended during lactation.

Paediatric Use

Herbal remedies have traditionally been used to treat both adults and children. Herbal remedies may offer a milder alternative to some conventional medicines, although the suitability of a herbal remedy needs to be considered with respect to quality, safety and efficacy. Herbal remedies should be used with caution in children and medical advice should be sought if in doubt. Chamomile is a popular remedy used to treat teething pains in babies. However, chamomile is known to contain allergenic sesquiterpene lactones and should therefore be used with caution. The administration of herbal teas to children needs to be considered carefully and professional advice may be needed.

Perioperative use

The need for patients to discontinue herbal medicinal products prior to surgery has recently been proposed. The authors considered eight commonly used herbal medicinal products (echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St John’s Wort, valerian). On the evidence available they concluded that the potential existed for direct pharmacological effects, pharmacodynamic interactions and pharmacokinetic interactions. The need for physicians to have a clear understanding of the herbal medicinal products being used by patients and to take a detailed history was highlighted. The American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) has advised patients to tell their doctor if they are taking herbal products before surgery and has reported that a number of anaesthesiologists have reported significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure in some patients who have been taking herbal medicinal products including St John’s Wort, ginkgo and ginseng. MCA is currently investigating a serious adverse reaction associated with the use of ginkgo prior to surgery. In this case, the patient who was undergoing hip replacement experienced uncontrolled bleeding thought to be related to the use of ginkgo.

From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency ( Department of Health, UK


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