British Collection Highlights:

Wooden Truncheons

Truncheons are short wooden clubs traditionally used by police forces. They have been carried by watchmen, parish constables and subsequently policemen since the middle ages, and have been regarded as being symbols of authority as well as a means of defence. Both of the truncheons in the photograph are from Oxford, but neither is a normal police issue.

The one on the left is an Oxford University police truncheon. The University had its own police force from 1829–2003, with responsibility for enforcing
its regulations and keeping the peace within the immediate vicinity of the institution. This truncheon bears the coat of arms of the University and dates from the reign of Queen Victoria

The one on the right commemorates the service of Mr H.T. Leach as a Special Constable for the City of Oxford during the Great War, 1914-1918.  The ‘Specials’ were men who volunteered to assist the police during World War I while many regular officers were serving in the military. At the end of the war commemorative truncheons were presented to all Special Constables in recognition of the importance of their role. These truncheons were decorated with the name of the individual, an insignia of King George V, and the coat of arms of the city in which he had served.

Click to enlarge

Two Truncheons (Click to enlarge)

Two truncheons (AN1987.24 & AN1949.347)

The Ashmolean also holds a large collection of truncheons and constables' staffs from Oxfordshire which were collected by Percy Manning.
Truncheon from Freeland

Truncheon from Freeland, Oxfordshire (AN1921.409)

Constables Staff from Crawley

Constables' Staff from Crawley, Oxfordshire (AN1921.404)

Further Information


Find out more about:

Alison Roberts
Updated April 2014