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The Ran-Tanning of Quadring Fen

The last recorded occurrence of “ran-tanning” happened on February 15th, 1928, at Quadring Fen.

Constable Thomas Jukes had been working in Gosberton shortly before this date, and on February 14th he was surprised to discover a ran-tan going on at Quadring Fen. He made enquiries and found that a woman was being ran-tanned for making remarks that scandalised her neighbours and for allegedly writing defaming statements about a young lady of the village.

Ran-tanning, which closely resembled a riot, was a way in which people of Lincoln county (especially in the Fens) expressed disapproval over some action of one of their neighbours. They would congregate around the person’s house and make a lot of noise by beating on tins, cans, buckets, and kettles with sticks, playing mouth organs, booing, shouting, and singing — and on some occasions even lighting a bonfire to burn an effigy of the person who had incurred their anger. This was usually carried on for many nights in succession.

Constable Jukes did not intervene on the night of the 14th, but the next night he returned to the Fen with his Superintendent, Inspector, Sergeant, and another Constable. The ran-tanning was in progress again, with about 30 to 40 people being present, and the police made arrests. On February 22nd, 1928, 23 of those people went before the Court at the Sessions House in Boston, charged with disorderly conduct contrary to County by-laws. For the defence it was explained that ran-tanning was perhaps the only type of mob-law still extant in the country.

Five of the defendants gave evidence on oath that they had not been present and were dismissed. The other defendants were fined 51- each plus witness costs, or 7 days’ imprisonment. One man who was charged with aiding and abetting the others by letting them be in his garden was fined 10/ or 7 days’ imprisonment.

As far as we know there have been no other ran-tannings since 1928.

After the Court case, the ran-tanners ran a whist drive to raise sufficient money to pay their fines and the cost of the bus they used to take them to Court!

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