Whitby Museum: Hangman’s Locket

Since the dawn of time the human race have had an almost macabre obsession with death, crime, and everything that goes with the two. One of the most powerful pieces of evidence for this is the Hangman’s Locket.

In England, after a criminal was hung from the gallows a little souvenir called ‘The Hangman’s Locket’ was sold to onlookers who were searching for a keepsake.

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A Hangman’s Locket example

Back in the day hangings were seen as a social event, in fact the term ‘Hangover’ comes from the days in which we still practiced capitol punishment. People would come from all over to witness a hanging, get extremely drunk and have a thick head in the morning, when the hanging was over… hence the name hangover.

The Hangman’s Locket consisted of a small pendant with a gallow and man hanging from it, alongside it would be a cut off from the rope used to hang the latest criminal. The locket was thought to bring good luck, and could also cure a sore throat, but it was more likely sold just to make the hangman a bit of extra pocket money.

Whitby Museum have hold of a real Hangman’s Locket in their amazing collection. If you get a chance, head down to the museum in Pannett Park and take a look at the locket for yourself!

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