Bull Baiting in Wokingham Market Place
DescriptionA painting of bull baiting in Wokingham Market Place. While the artist is unknown, the style and manner of the work has led this to be attributed to an artist associated with James Pollard. The white building to the right is the old Guildhall.
On the present day market site, bull baiting took place once a year on St. Thomas’ Day (21st December).
George Staverton, a butcher who died in 1661, bequeathed a house, the rent from which was to provide two bulls to be tethered in the marketplace and to be baited by dogs. The bulls were paraded around the town a day or two before the event and then locked in the yard of the "Old Rose". A number of dogs would be maimed or killed during the event and the bull eventually destroyed. The meat and leather retrieved from the slaughter was later given to the poor people of the town. One bull's tongue was given to the Alderman and the other to the Town Clerk. The practice was discontinued in 1821 by an Act against cruelty to animals. In 1835 a mob broke open the place where the bulls were kept and baited the bulls despite the ruling.
Source"An account of the charities of the town and parish of Wokingham" printed in 1845 by W. Gotelee.
Circle of Pollard, “Bull Baiting in Wokingham Market Place,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed July 13, 2020, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0233.