Object of the Month: Spring Gun

Object of the Month: Spring Gun

Each month we like to highlight one of the objects in the Laurence Cadbury Collection, at Selly Manor. This month, a student who is on placement with us from Baskerville School, has chosen the Spring Gun. 

History of the Spring Gun:

The Spring Gun in Selly Manor is believed to have been created in the early 19th century as a way for wealthy landowners to protect their land from poachers. It was also used as a way of protecting coffins from grave robbers (aka: resurrection men). This model was able to swivel to the direction of a target, which makes it a kind of early form of automated turret.


Description of Selly Manor’s Spring Gun:

The Spring Gun (297) is a short double barrel gun mounted on a block of wood attached to a swivel with a flintlock mechanism on the side.

The gun is mounted on a wooden block which has extensive woodworm damage and general ware and tear on the sides. The gun itself is in a fair condition, some of the wood and iron has been worn out over time with half of the hammer on the flintlock missing.


Why is this object interesting?

This item is interesting because it can show us how desperate some people may have been to get money, by poaching, despite the knowledge of these guns and mantraps being around the forests. It also shows us how far landowners were willing to go to protect their land which most of their wealth was put into.

How it got to Selly manor:

This Spring Gun (297) was acquired by Lawrence Cadbury on 10th March 1932

How it works:

The spring gun is triggered by someone coming into contact with a trip wire that is attached to the gun. This will cause the gun to swivel around towards the person that triggered the mechanism, which sets off the flintlock that would then fire the gun which would hit the target’s leg or foot from a close range. This often resulted in a very slow and painful death from infection or if they were lucky, they would recover but would likely lose the limb that was shot.

The student placement is a partnership between Selly Manor Museum and Baskerville School. The placement enables the museum to build stronger links in the community as well as supporting individuals’ learning.