Cllr Bretherton is a Trustee of Thame Museum and a keen historian. He has recently undertaken some research and discovered the Statute of Labours Act of 1405, an Act that required every town and village to maintain a set of stocks in which to punish vagabonds, layabouts and drunkards. Should a town not posses a set, it would be downgraded to a hamlet and would lose its right to hold a market or fair.
Stocks should not be confused with a pillory; stocks hold the feet at a low level whereas a pillory was for the head and hands. The use of the pillory was abolished in England in 1837 but being placed in the stocks is still legal in this country and there is no evidence that the statute of 1405 has even been repealed.