Shickle, Rev Charles William (polehead collector)

Date: 1700s-1800sExtent: 264
Brass polehead horse from the Shickle collection of poleheads
Brass polehead MERL 51/1022

Rev Charles William Shickle (1841-1927) collected Friendly Society Emblems. He was a Rector of Langridge Church and Master of St John’s Hospital, Bath. Shickle was a clergyman of the Church of England and spent much of his life in Bath, Somerset.

These metal poleheads would be attached to a pole and carried in procession by the members of village clubs on their annual ‘walks’. These clubs were parish friendly societies formed to provide some insurance for their members against sickness or death. In addition, the clubs played an important part in the social life of the village. Each Friendly Society would have an emblem of a different design, from simple shapes like diamonds, hearts and crescents, to elaborate designs of ships, horses or more symbolic designs.

The Shickle Collection was bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1928, and transferred to the Museum of English Rural Life in 1951. The collection of poleheads contains examples from Somerset and the adjoining counties.

More Information:

The objects are catalogued on the online database. Search using the phrase ‘Shickle’

Other polehead collections in the museum include Allen, Jardine and Forster.

  • Looking for a specific item?

    We are regularly updating the collections that we publish on our website but if you are after something specific that you can't find online, then drop by for a visit or feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help you.