My experiences go back to the mid 1960s and, like a lot of girls, I was well aware of corporal punishment, but did my best to avoid it in any form.
I went to a girls school that was fairly strict, but later we moved and I went to a girls only boarding school. When my parents and I went for a first visit we got the impression it was quite strict but it was on my first day there that I discovered just how strict it was. The Headmistress summoned me to her study after evening prep and talked to me about the school and its traditions as I stood on the carpet in front of her desk. She inspected my uniform and confirmed that she was content with my appearance.
She then took out a report sent by my old school and sat there reading it. When she had finished, she put it down and said: “I can see you work hard and do well. I also see that your behaviour was exemplary. May it continue as I should not like to see you in here. Do you understand, Jane?”
I was not entirely sure but nodded.
“I do not expect to see your name in my punishment book,” she added, just to make sure I knew.
I blushed deeply at this. I had never had lines or detentions and never any form of corporal punishment. I reached the conclusion that her punishment book would only be for canings, so she had made a fairly clear indication that she used the cane.
The first few weeks went well and I soon settled in. At weekends we were allowed to go to the local town which was a good walk or a short bus ride away. One Saturday I joined three new friends – Helen, Sandra and Bridget – at the bus stop. We were all in full uniform and were excited about the trip. On the bus we were quite boisterous and an elderly lady hissed at us to behave. We ignored her and on arrival got off in town. As we did so, we passed Pippa, a prefect in our house, who was quite bossy.
We had a lovely time in town and caught the bus back later in the afternoon. As we entered the main door, Miss E, the Headmistress, came along the corridor and spotted us. “You four girls to my study now!” She barked.
We went along to her study and filed in. She followed and shut the door. We stood in a line on that same carpet in front of her desk as I had stood on that first day and she informed us that she had received a report from a member of the public that we had misbehaved badly on the bus and this had been confirmed by a prefect.
We said we had been a bit boisterous but nothing more than that and we said there were no prefects on the bus. I think we all realised that Pippa had reported us.
Miss E told us we had behaved in a way that was unacceptable, then she told us to wait outside her door. We filed out and she closed the door. I was really sweating at the thought of being given lines or even a detention as I had always tried so very hard to avoid these punishments, but what would Miss E do? I remembered well her comment about the punishment book. We could hear her on the telephone and afer a few minutes she came out.
“I have spoken to the lady concerned and I have no option but to cane you all. Helen H, you are first. The rest of you, face the wall.”
The door closed and we stood there facing the wall as instructed. I remember clenching my hands and my bottom felt very vulnerable. Bridget and Sandra looked glum. Suddenly we heard the sound of a cane swishing down and a slight cry after each one. Helen received four strokes and a few moments later appeared at the door red-faced and holding her bottom.
Sandra went in and Helen walked along the corridor. Again we heard four strokes of the cane being applied but no sound from Sandra and then my friend came out. My heart was pounding as I was next in line. Sandra was a pretty blond and she had tears on her cheeks but gave me a smile. It did not reassure me as I pushed the door open, walked in and closed it behind me.
Miss E was standing there in a black skirt, white blouse and wearing her black gown. In her hand was a traditional cane which stopped just short of the floor. She pointed it to a space in front of her desk, that same place I had stood on that first day. Then she said the words: “Bend over and touch your toes.”
What could I do? I had no option, so I bent over and stretched my fingers so they touched my shoes and got a closer view of the carpet than I had ever wanted to have. Miss E lifted my gymslip and then I felt the cane touch my bottom contained in my now tight knickers. This was it, my first caning, and there was no escape. My name would appear in her book.
The first stroke whipped across my backside but I held my position and managed no sound louder than a gasp. Miss E caned quite hard or so I thought at the time and delivered all four strokes across my bottom without delay. She told me to stand send Bridget in. I stood up and tidied my gymslip and left the room. I couldn’t speak to Bridget but she knew to go in. I paused for a moment and rubbed my backside and heard Bridget receive her caning and then hurried away before she emerged from the Headmistress’s study.
I was at that boarding school for two more years and despite best efforts picked up four detentions. I was also slippered once with two other girls for being slow to shower and change after hockey but I did not get the cane again.
The slippering incident happened one day after hockey. Me and two friends were the last off the pitch by a long way as we had been busy chatting as girls do. When we eventually got back to the changing rooms all the others were either naked from the showers or getting dressed again. Miss F, the sports mistress, told us to hurry up and told us off for dithering and awarded each of us a detention – one of the four I got.
Although we started to undress we sat around in bra and knickers gossiping again. Miss F came back some considerable time later to find us three were the only ones there. She told us to stand facing the bench where our clothes hung on pegs while she fetched her leather soled slipper. Once again I was feeling very vulnerable and just knew we were going to get some form of corporal punishment.
When she came back she told me to bend over and place my hands on the bench. Four stinging strokes with the slipper were given and I was told to stand. She then did the same for the other two and unlike the caning from the Headmistress which I just heard from outside her study, this time I saw the slippering of the others. She stayed to ensure we undressed and watched us as we did so. Then she watched us as we showered and got dressed, making sure we did so without more delay.
You can imagine what our bottoms looked like and I was hugely embarrassed to have been slippered and then be seen with a very rosy bottom. So, although I had tried hard to avoid corporal punishment I did get it and it must have been the start of a long time interest in it.