This Is Why Southern Homes Have a “Joggling Board” on the Front Porch

Updated: Nov. 10, 2023

These rocking benches have a rich history in South Carolina.

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We love modern home decor, but there’s something about the charm of old-style decor that can’t be beat. Specifically, Southern decor! Let’s be honest, it’s the only thing we love more than Southern cooking.

If you’ve visited down South, you might’ve noticed long benches that sit on the porches of many South Carolina homes. This unique feature is called a “joggling board” and it’s not just for decoration—it has a purpose.

What Is a Joggling Board?

The word “joggle” means to shake slightly or move to and fro, and that’s just what this board does. The bench is made out of a long, pliable piece of wood supported on each end by wood stands. It’s made with Southern pine, a wood that’s sturdy yet flexible and perfect for building this Southern staple.

The joggling board dates back to 1804, when Cleland Kinloch of South Carolina asked his widowed sister, Mary Kinloch Huger, to come live with him and look after the household. Because Mary suffered from a joint condition called rheumatism, she was unable to take carriage rides, and often complained about it to her family back in Scotland. The family, in response, sent over plans for a joggling board so she could feel like she was in a carriage and get some pain-free exercise. The board became far more popular than anticipated, and during the 19th century, it became a staple on Southern front porches.

This Bench Has a Secret Meaning, Too

Joggling boards look great and are super comfortable, but that’s not all. Many people believed that if your front porch had a joggling board, you would never have an unwed daughter in the house. This might be because the boards were also called “courting benches,” so named because young couples that sat at either end would slowly slide to the center!

If someone invites you to sit with them on their joggling board, it may also be considered an invitation for friendship. There’s nothing these benches can’t do.

Where to Find a Joggling Board for Sale

Joggling boards are definitely coming back, thanks to their rich history and functionality. If you’re looking to buy your own, swing by the Joggle Factory or take a peek on Etsy!

Need more Southern trivia? This is why houses in the South don’t have basements.