ALTHOUGH there is unlikely to be any rotten fruit thrown for the foreseeable future, Thame Town Council is looking to reinstate its stocks.

Hoping to attract tourists and charity fundraisers, the council is holding a consultation with residents to see if they should bring back the medieval punishment device.

The surprising consultation comes after Councillor David Bretherton discovered a 15th Century law, which states every town and village must have a set of stocks.

He said: “I was reading on of these books about old English laws.

“And there was an article about a statute from 1405 which requires all towns and villages to provide a set of stocks at which they could punish all the vagabonds in the town.

“You did not have prisons at that time, so it was one of the most popular forms of punishment.”

Despite being more than 700 years old, the law has not been repealed.

Mr Bretherton added: “I thought it could be a nice idea to get some publicity for the town.

“You never know we could use them for the mayor making ceremony, or if companies wanted to hire it and put their directors in there and have wet sponges thrown at them, I think that would also be great.”

But throwing rotten cabbages and fruit would not have been one of the most severe punishments you could experience in the stocks.

Mr Bretherton added: “Sometimes what they used to do was take off their shoe and tickle them with a feather.

“Perhaps for charity we could do something like that, get people in the stocks and have others donate money for the time they last while having their feet tickled.”

Stocks are not to be confused with a pillory, which were used for much more serious crimes and held the person’s head and hands.

The use of the pillory was abolished in England in 1837, but being placed in the stocks is still legal.

The only known set of stocks in the county is in Woodstock outside the Oxfordshire Museum.

Former Mayor of Woodstock, Dr Robert Edwards, said the stock on display was found in the town hall in 1958 and since then have been on display in the town centre.

He said: “What is quite remarkable about the stocks in Woodstock is that it has five foot holes.

“The reason being is that you would only need to put one of the prisoners’ feet in there – so you would be able to fit more people in it.

“There was a Woodstock family who emigrated to Australia and opened up a vineyard.

“One of their wines is called five legs after the stocks.”

To respond to the consultation contact Thame Town Council on: