We all know what pirates were rumoured to do to their victims, make them walk the plank, preferably with circling sharks below, right? Not a nice way to go.
Apparently the punishment meted out to one pirate by these particular landlubbers was far more bloodthirsty!
This article from 1905 retells a story published in the 18th century in a book called A History of Essex.
Apparently a Danish pirate was caught in the act of defiling a church at Hadstock, Essex, 900 years earlier.
It was clearly a bad move on his behalf, and the priests decided to make an example of him to discourage others who thought a church might be an easy target.
Interestingly, they thought the best way to teach this lesson was to flay him and nail his skin to the front door. Eeeek! I expect that such a display made sure the parishioners were a little more obedient for a time too.
Over the years, this pirate’s hide was taken away piece-by-piece by souvenir hunters until the story was almost forgotten. Now, I love an unusual souvenir myself, but bits of human skin? No thanks!
The reason this story was being retold in this 1905 article was that the door had recently been taken away for repairs. Under a hinge was found a last remnant of flesh.
Obviously bits of old pirate were still quite collectable all those years later. That last scrap was mounted in a box with a collection of literary references and sent off to be auctioned. It was sold for £3 which was probably more than a weeks average wage.