(The). The “gossip's or scold's bridle.” One of these bridles is preserved in the vestry of the church of Walton-on-Thames. Iron bars pass round the head, and are fastened by a padlock. In front, a flat piece of iron projects, and, this piece of iron being thrust into the mouth, effectually prevents the utterance of words. The relic at Walton is dated 1633, and the donor was a person named Chester, as appears from the inscription:
Chester presents Walton with a bridle To curb women's tongues that talk too idle.
It is also called a “brank.” (Teutonic, pranque, “a bridle.”)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894