Whilst looking around for possible miniatures for a crime and punishment month, I happened across 'Colonel Bill's Wargames Depot'. The Colonel produces a range of unusual pieces that add a little colour to the tabletop. In one particular range of non-playing 17th Century Villagers, I spotted a truly unique miniature, a woman wearing a Scold’s Bridle. Deciding that this was something that I couldn’t live without, a pack was ordered and with outstanding service, duly arrived in good time.
I had not painted a Col. Bill’s miniature before and would suggest the scale and sculpting are a good match for ‘Redoubt Miniatures’. They share a similar, comforting style, which I often find more forgiving when it comes to painting. Although not troubled with super fine detail, the woman is clearly seen wearing the bridle and yet still holds a stoutly, resolute pose. This intrigued me and so I delved a little deeper into the contraptions history. If I am honest with myself, I hadn’t realised that a Scold was, according to a medieval definition, a woman with a vicious tongue. Someone likely to cause insurrection or argue against the church; not quite the nagging housewife that I had been led to believe then. As with all these barbaric devices there are a variety of styles or modifications, but essentially it was an iron framework that was worn around the head, with a protruding bit that silenced the wearer. A form of torture and public humiliation the scold’s bridle, sometime referred to as the witch’s bridle or brakes, was certainly not to be considered an easy punishment.
Jenny Paull, writing about Lancaster Castle’s bridle, makes it very clear how any wearer would suffer excruciating pain,
“The bridled woman was really an outspoken woman and it took a brave one to incur the punishment for being so. This made the bridle a very effective means of social control. Her fate was to be dragged through the streets in the bridle as it shook about on her head; often with her jaw broken, spitting out teeth, blood and vomit and receiving all forms of abuse.”
To accompany my poor unfortunate scold, I took the opportunity to paint another miniature from the same set, this time a puritan preaching from the good book. I have chosen to have mine match my earlier interpretation and swell the ranks of the Witchfinders.