I ask because it’s something Mistress and I discussed a while back and we recently harvested some twigs to fashion into a birch. I've tried tying them into birch rods - one with three twigs, one with four but also left a couple spare to use like a swtich - but the finished birches look a pretty amatuerish. So I just wondered if anyone has done this and created an effective product.
The term birch rod is a misnomer since it is not a single rod but a collection of twigs – not necessarily from the birch tree. Ours are from a hazel bush. The
Isle of Man authorities used hazel to make birches to use in their judicial punishments.
The birch rod of course employs a special place in British corporal punishment history. The
Isle of Man used birching right through the 1970s and the birch, as well as the cat-o-nine-tails, was used in British prisons.
The judicial birch was three or four rods bound together. According to Wikipedia the severity of the birch rod was determined by its length, weight and number of twigs. In Dartmoor Prison, for example, prisoners over 16 years old were subjected to a ‘senior birch, which weight 16 ounces and was 48 in length.
The birch was also used in schools, most famously at
Eton where they used what is known as the ‘spray birch’ – a much bushier collection of smaller twigs.
Birching apparently took place all over
Europe up to the 19th century when caning started to become a more popular method of corporal punishment.