CORNER OF YORKSHIRE:
The Halifax Gibbet
A LITTLE reminder of Yorkshire’s gruesome past. Move over, M Le Guillotine, you were not the first to invent a decapitating machine – that rather dubious honour goes to a citizen of Halifax, who, at some point in medieval times, thought up this means of a swift execution.
Many dozens of people were sent to meet their maker at this particular gibbet, the first recorded one in 1286, and the last in 1650, when the use of it was forbidden by one Oliver Cromwell, the man who, you’ll recall, was instrumental in having Charles I beheaded.
At one time, in the reign of Edward I, there were 92 gibbets operating across Yorkshire, and you only had to steal a few pence, or be guilty of a very minor misdemeanour, to end up at or on one of them. Halifax in particular, had a strict attitude toward law enforcement, and carried on using their gibbet long after other towns had abandoned theirs.