Berkley Horse

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You most likely are familar with the Berkely Horse (see art below). It was designed by Theresa Berkley (or so goes the mythe)

The Berkley Horse (also spelled Berkeley Horse) is an item of spanking furniture used for corporal punishment. Resembling a folding ladder (capable of being opened to a considerable extent) this contraption allowed delinquents to be tied up spreadeagled and to bring their body to a desirable angle

Theresa Berkley ran a brothel named ‘White House’ at 28 Charlotte Street, Portland Place, and by all accounts was the queen of corporal punishment. She also employed a number of women to flog and be flogged; including ‘Miss Ring, Hannah Jones, Sally Taylor, One-Eyed Peg, Bauld-Cunted Poll, and a black woman called ‘Ebony Bet’. Not much is known of Theresa’s personal life, but a great deal is known about her services. Venus School Mistress (1830) is an erotic book devoted entirely to flagellation and contains a preface by another London madam, Mary Wilson. Mary writes that she is retiring and urges her clients to seek out the talents of Mrs Berkley.

Her instruments of torture were more numerous than those of any other governess. Her supply of birch was extensive, and kept in water, so that it was always green and pliant: she had shafts with a dozen whip thongs on each of them; a dozen different sizes of cat-o’-nine-tails, some with needle points worked into them; various kinds of thin bending canes; leather straps like coach traces; battledoors, made of thick sole-leather, with inch nails run through to docket, and currycomb tough hides rendered callous by many years flagellation. […] Thus, at her shop, whosoever went with plenty of money could be birched, whipped, fustigated, scourged, needle-pricked, half-hung, holly-brushed, furze-brushed, butcher-brushed, stinging-nettled, curry-combed, phlebotomized, and tortured until he had a belly full.

Mary Wilson

The Berkley Horse is a BDSM apparatus, supposedly designed for, or by, Theresa Berkley in 1828. She referred to it as a “chevalet”.

A notorious machine was invented for Mrs Berkley to flog gentlemen upon, in the spring of 1828. It is capable of being opened to a considerable extent, so as to bring the body to any angle that might be desirable. There is a print in Mrs Berkley’s memoirs, representing a man upon it quite naked. A woman is sitting in a chair exactly under it, with her bosom, belly, and bush exposed: she is manualizing his embolon, whilst Mrs Berkley is birching his posteriors.

 Henry Spencer Ashbee (1834-1900)

The Society of Arts at the Adelphi (currently the Royal Society of Arts) took possession of the Horse in 1837, with public exhibition promoted by George Cannon. An illustration of the apparatus is reproduced in the original 1880s edition of Ashbee’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

The handicraft was done by Theresa’s patron George Cannon who was trained in the law and learned in philosophy, literature and languages, a well known publisher of erotic work and member of the Victorian “Society for the Promotion of the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce at the Adelphi”. Cannon was in intimate of Theresa. He probably saw the Berk(e)ley Horse as an advertisement for his own wares as well as a contribution to useful knowledge.

I should like to see two things again, the river – and the block.

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) when recalling his time at Eton College.

A little interesting sidenote: Swinburne attributed his taste for being flogged to his time at Eton and it became a lifelong obsession for him. He secretly wrote works with titles such as ‘The Whippingham Papers’, and ‘The Flogging Block: A Heroic Poem by Rufus Rodworthy, with annotations by Barebum Birchingham’. He is thought to have published several works anonymously in The Pearl, an underground pornographic magazine that ran from 1879-1880. 

There are no artworks depicting what Theresa Berkley looked like, and occasional descriptions usually report that she was attractive, with a strong disposition. An expert with all instruments of torture, her talents became highly sought after by the aristocracy of the day. She was a master of the art of inflicting pain for pleasure, and practised absolute privacy to protect her clientele. Her clients were said to have been both men and women of wealth, and her career was financially lucrative.

Shortly after her death in 1836, her brother, who had been a missionary for 30 years in Australia, arrived in England. When he learned the source from which the property she had left him had been derived, he renounced all claim, and immediately went back to Australia. In default, the property was bequeathed to Dr Vance, her medical attendant and executor; but he refused to administer, and the whole estate, valued at £100,000, was escheated to the crown.

Sources:
Spanking Art Wiki
Inews
Alchetron
Vintage Fetish Art

The artworks in the gallery are from anonymous artists and from known artists. The spanking furniture is sometimes more a spanking bench then a spanking horse, for a new blog I will share more art with spankings on a spanking bench.
These are the artists featured in the gallery: BalTit, Bernard Montorgueil, Carlo, Cheri Herouard, Gaston Smit, Helga Bode, J.R, Leon Roze, Martin van Maele, Mario Labocetta, Wighead,

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