Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 4/Stang Riding, &c., in Lancashire
The practice of what is locally termed "stang riding" was practised in Lancashire some forty years' ago. When a man or woman is detected in an act of unfaithfulness, a framework of two long poles is procured, across which is placed a flat board, to serve as a seat. The person who has offended is then caught by the crowd, and tied fast to the seat with cords. A procession is then formed, and the culprit is carried aloft on the shoulders of four men, attended by a crowd, who make all the discordant noises they can, on pots, pans, tea-trays, &c., as they pass along the road. On arriving at the front of any house, the procession halts, and the leader of the gang proclaims the names of the parties, with the time and place where the fault has been committed. When the real parties cannot be captured, a substitute is found, and the procession passes along as if the offenders were really present. The writer accompanied one of these processions, in the neighbourhood of Blackburn, when quite a youth; and the feud thus created was not allayed for many years.
"Buck-thanging" is a Lancashire punishment still practised by school boys. The offender is taken and placed on his back; four boys then seize each an arm, or a leg, and the person is then swung as high as possible, and then allowed to fall with a heavy bump on the ground. "Stretching" is a variation of this, for there is then no throwing up, but each leg and arm are pulled different ways, in the manner of a rack, so as to produce excruciating pain.
"Tossing in the Blanket," or "pack-sheeting," is still practised in the neighbourhood of Burnley. This is done when a sweetheart jilts her lover, and weds another. The forsaken one is then placed on a blanket, or sheet, and is then tossed by four persons, who hold the corners. A fine is then inflicted, which is immediately spent at the next public-house.
"Back-slamming" is another of these punishments. In this case, the offender is swung against a door, or wall, by two or more persons, who hold him, face upwards, by the arms and legs, and thus turn him into a sort of battering ram.
"Mischief Night" is well known, and much amusement, and occasionally anger, is caused by the practice of fastening doors, smearing the handle, stopping up chimneys, laying emblematical plants, or shrubs, at the doors, or in the windows, so as to please, or irritate, the occupants. The eve of All Fools' Day is not yet forgotten.