Joggling Hijinks

Walking through Charleston, South Carolina, I couldn’t shake the feeling I had inadvertently drifted into another era; one filled with lace gloves, doffed hats, horse-drawn carriages and a sense of time stretching out before me. Warm sea breezes and deliciously soft, slow southern accents eased my pace, lulling me into quiet contemplation as I observed the romance slinking around every corner of this captivating city.

Every so often, on a shady porch or in the green of a lawn, my eye landed on a rather unusual bench of sorts, with great sturdy feet and a single, oddly elongated plank serving as the seating area. The lines were simple and elegant and captured my imagination.

joggling board, charleston, south carolina, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

It is most commonly given the joyful name “joggling board” and these unusual benches are to be found all over the Lowcountry of South Carolina. The pliable board bobs up and down when you sit on it, intended to simulate the gentle motion of a horse-drawn carriage.

One legend claims that the first joggling board was made at Acton Plantation in Sumter County near Stateburg in the early 1800s. Cleland Kinloch ran the plantation, and when his wife passed away, his sister, Mary Benjamin Kinloch Huger arrived in Acton to help him run the household. While she was there, she wrote to her cousins in Scotland, telling them of the arthritis that was causing her terrible pain, and they wrote back sending her plans for a joggling board, suggesting that she could use it as part of an exercise regimen that might ease her pain. She had one of the plantation carpenters follow the plans and the joggling board was born, soon spreading across the state. Oddly enough, there is no evidence of a joggling board being made at Gilmerton House, the Scottish estate where the plans were supposed to have been drawn. However, in 2010 a joggling board was brought to Gilmerton House by a South Carolinian relative of the current owners who heard the history and felt the joggling board should revisit its roots.

The joggling board also earned itself another name; a courting bench, because it was used to the advantage of astute courting couples under the strict supervision of prim and proper chaperones who insisted they keep a respectful distance. The boy would sit at one end; the girl at the other, and during the course of their conversation they would shift around and the board would bow in the middle, causing them to slip towards the centre until at last they would meet in the middle. Legend has it that no house with a joggling board on the porch would ever have to worry about having unwed daughters.

I want one.

joggling board, charleston, south carolina, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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33 Responses to Joggling Hijinks

  1. restlessjo says:

    Genius, isn’t it? 🙂 I was dutifully playing catch up when I spotted your post and thought I would allow myself a small indulgence. The mention of Charleston is a powerful lure and you write so deliciously, Ailsa. No regrets! Have a wonderful week ahead :0

    • ailsapm says:

      Ahh, I just adored those benches, Jo, what a fabulous invention. So glad you stole a few moments with me on the joggling bench! 😉 Wishing you a wonderful week too! xxx Ailsa

  2. pommepal says:

    Delightful story Ailsa, I think I feel a challenge coming on….

  3. Beachbums1 says:

    Love those joggling benches. Thought about getting one but then I would have to get the beautiful Charleston house with large porch to go with it 😉 Looking forward to reading more about your Charleston adventures…

  4. I loved joggling boards as a kid! I remember them sitting outside of S.C. coastal restaurants, and we’d load a whole passel of cousins on them and bounce. Great memories!

  5. Heyjude says:

    Oh, how interesting! You must link this to my new Bench Challenge Ailsa (https://smallbluegreenwords.wordpress.com/bench-series/) I want one too!!

  6. We love these joggling boards. You can see them up and down the SC coast — on some very nice porches!

  7. So interesting! The funny thing is, I just read a book that talked about the latest fitness fad of joggling– juggling while you jog. I figured the author made it up, but I wonder if she chose that term because she’d heard of these benches and decided to come up with a different definition? 🙂

    I want one of these benches, too!

    • ailsapm says:

      That’s hilarious, I imagine it would be an even better workout to try juggling on a joggling bench, those benches are pretty bouncy. 🙂

  8. DagEnDauw says:

    Some traditions were so cute that one would almost wish them to be installed again… in a playfull way though… cause mariage is not something I’m dreaming of realy…

  9. Pamela says:

    ….and when the couples had joggled to the middle and the chaperones noticed, they had to quickly joggle their way to the sides again… and so the dance was born. 🙂

  10. Pamela says:

    The Charleston, of course!

  11. Mary says:

    Wow, that is so interesting. Those are neat.

  12. Lucid Gypsy says:

    That’s fab, I can just picture them sliding gradually to the centre!

  13. They are adorable! So full of character! I wonder how “reliable” those benches are… On a second thought, reliability is in the eye of the sitter 😉

    • ailsapm says:

      I actually wondered that myself and looked up the construction of them – they’re made of southern yellow pine which is apparently incredibly strong and pliable, perfect for an avid joggler. I’ve seen photos of entire families sitting together on a single joggling board.

  14. joannesisco says:

    I had no idea … I’ve never heard of joggling boards before and it sounds like fun 🙂 Such an interesting story!

  15. Is that second bench in front of Hyman’s Seafood on Meeting? If not, they need a few of those cool benches. There’s always a waiting line in front of the place. I can’t help but think I recognize that building. Charleston is our favorite vacation place!

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