Posted in January 2013

Trouble and Strife

Here are two short articles from Bristol’s newspapers of the 18th century: “A woman at Batcombe being jealous of her husband, went and hung herself. The good man found her in that condition, immediately cut her down, but she, being resolved to plague him as much as possible, hung herself a second time. However he … Continue reading


Beating the Bounds

Dotted around most ancient cities of England are parish boundary markers, often carved stones but sometimes lead letters on walls. they were numbered and every year or perhaps decade, the officials of each parish and the congregation would follow the boundaries to confirm the parish’s rights, to check the state of the markers (which were … Continue reading

“The Cry of the Poor”

“The Cry of the Poor- A Letter from 16 Working Men to the 16 aldermen of the city November 1871” This is a rather extraordinary document, the author(s) of which are unknown, but it is a beautifully written document, and tells us much about life in Bristol at the time. It claims to have been … Continue reading

The Pig Faced Woman

The Pig Faced Woman

This is a gem from my book on Fairs, circuses & music Halls: “Lord” George Sanger, in particular, tells in Seventy Years a showman strange tales of fraud. At the Hyde Park Exhibition of 1851 Madame Stevens, the “pig faced lady” was a fine brown bear whose face had been clean shaven. Over her paws … Continue reading

Vengeance of Hens

Another piece from Gilbert White: A neighbouring gentleman one summer had lost most of his chickens by a sparrow-hawk, that came gliding down between a faggot pile and the end of his house to the place where the coops stood. The owner, inwardly vexed to see his flock thus diminishing, hung a setting net adroitly … Continue reading

Shouting at Bees

This piece shows the level of dedication Gilbert White had towards his investigations of natural history. Anyone trying this today would probably have their sanity questioned. One should have imagined that echoes, if not entertaining, must at least have been harmless and inoffensive; yet Virgil advances a strange notion, that they are injurious to bees. … Continue reading

Leprosy and Work

The following account could be one of many skin problems, but my money is on it being psoriasis, as it is often on the hands and palms, and is often aggravated by injury, which manual work would trigger. There was in this village several years ago a miserable pauper, who, from his birth, was afflicted … Continue reading

An Old Hog

Another snippet from Gilbert White: “The natural term of an hog’s life is little known, and the reason is plain – because it is neither profitable nor convenient to keep that turbulent animal to the full extent of it’s time: however, my neighbour, a man of substance who had no occasion to study every little … Continue reading

A Perfect Pop Tune

Every now and then I stumble upon a piece of music so fresh and wonderful it truly amazes me. This is ‘Teenage’ by Veronica Falls, just what we need in these dark and soggy months : Perfect for dancing round the kitchen!