Fun and games in Weymouth town, one long sip and we all fall down! ; 1883

Much like today, the Victorians had their fare share of petty criminals or well know characters around town, those that must just have made the local bobby shake their heads when they come across them yet again.

We might well think that bad behaviour and drunkenness in the streets is a new phenomenon, but believe you me it wasn’t!

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This is just a couple of snippets from the  archives of 1883 from the Western Gazette.

The first concerns a certain lady who obviously had a somewhat colourful reputation around town.

Before the Weymouth courts was lady (use the term lightly here) known as Sarah Hansford, though the headlines of the piece referred to her as a “tartar.”

It appears that Sarah liked her drink…only problem was she became, shall we say, rather quarrelsome when in her cups.

Sarah was well known to the local police, and here she was again, up before the courts.

This time she had gone into the Brig Inn which was run by Charles Woodland. It also seems that Charles knew Sarah fairly well, he had thrown her out of his pub many a time, and had tried barring her, refusing to serve her, but this wasn’t going to stop Sarah!

On the day in question, she had  pushed her way into the bar and started to pick up the drinks of the customers and swilling them down her neck as fast as she could…admist a barrage of abuse from the regulars seeing their hard earnt pints vanishing  down someone else’s throat, the landlord, Charles, marched across the floor and tried to push her out of the bar.

Slowly wiping the beer froth from her lips, she turned and stared hard at Charles…he knew he was in trouble!

The bar had gone deathly quiet now, all eyes on the landlord and the “quarrelsome tartar.” Sarah picked up the glass she had been supping from and smashed it down hard on the table, the glass shattering completely, showering everyone with beer and shards of glass.

By now, Charles was liviid, he’d had enough of this argumentative hussy, she wasn’t doing his trade any good at all, grabbing her by the shoulders he  pushed and shoved the struggling Sarah  out of the door. 

Beside herself with rage, Sarah swearing like a trooper, swung round and shattered a pane of glass in the door. She wasn’t too pleased when the bobbies came to remove her either!

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Arrested for umpteenth time, Sarah found herself sent to gaol to enjoy a brief spell of sobriety and 14 days hard labour.

Another female found herself dragged before the courts was Elizabeth Jacobs, who was described as an old woman ! In fact Elizabeth was only 57, she lived with her husband Joseph at no 3 Rolls Court, Weymouth, she had been found in the streets, drunk and incapable.

Someone else who obviously couldn’t manage her drink was Elizabeth Sibley, she too had been evicted from a public house for being drunk and abusive, this time by John Daniell who was the landlord of the Nelson Inn. Elizabeth claimed that “drink was driving her mad” She was sent to gaol for seven days.

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Our next miscreant was a male, Mark Watts, who was otherwise known as “Garibaldi”

His crime?…He had gone to the local police station to ask for a ticket to the Workhouse for that night, only problem was he was stupid with drink, and it seemed to be a frequent little trick of his, stagger into the police station and ask for a ticket for a bed that night in the workhouse, but because he was drunk, they would pop him in the cells until next morning. Well, now the police were obviously getting fed up and decided enough was enough, and he was hauled before the courts. At which point he promised that this time he would go to the Workhouse…honest gov!

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So the next time you wander through Weymouth streets at night, and tut and moan about the drunken state of todays youth just stop and think a moment…do you know what your ancestors were doing?

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Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.
https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/VictorianGraphics?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Beating the Bounds; Weymouth Corporation defying fate 1840

Beating the Bounds is an age old custom steeped in history, it can be traced right back to Anglo Saxon times, and is similar in method of the Roman custom of Terminalia.

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It was a time when people would walk the exact same route around the boundary of their parish, usually during Rogation week, (second week before Whitsunday) led by the parish priest and other members of the church and the parish officials. The priest would make blessings at the markers, and pray for a good harvest the coming year, hymns were often sung at various points along the way.

The procession would go from marker to marker, it was a way that the younger members would have fixed in his or her memory where that boundary laid (until they started to change them that is!) Young boys often took green boughs or sticks with them, with which they beat the markers, or in some cases, they themselves became the ‘sticks’ their rumps bumped on the marker stones, or even worse, whipped! Not something that would be easily erased from their memories for a long time…

It might seem a strange ritual, but was vital before maps were commonplace, when disputes over ownership of land might have arisen. if everyone had walked and learnt the boundary markings there was less chance of someone trying to surreptitiously gain an extra yard or two of ground.

It frequently turned into lengthy celebrations of the less christian variety, much to the chagrin of the church.

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Well, in the year 1840 the members of the Weymouth Corporation left the safe confines of their office and set off on their journey.

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Rather unwisely they chose to not  observe closely the age old rituals that had served their ancestors well down through the centuries, the bemused gods looked down and decided that they might just need a lesson in manners!

“WEYMOUTH.- In the perambulations of the boundaries of the borough of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, the enlightened Corporation have risen above the superstitious notions of former days, and set at defiance the rights and powers of the deities of heathenism, by passing over-sea in a portion of their circuit, without permission of Father Neptune, and proceeding on their course “against the sun,” causing, by the dazzling brightness of their jewels and ruddy faces, the appearance of a new constellation from the sight of which the steeds of Phoebus became restive, and threatened a catastrophe as fatal as that of Phaeton of old, who was hurled by a thunderbolt into the “Po”; but Jupiter, in mercy and pity, waived for the present, his summery vengeance, and taking into consideration their plea of being but ” half seas over,” put a stop to their further proceeding, by summoning “Aquarius” to his assistance, who filled his largest sized ” water pot,” and discharged the contents on their “devoted heads.”

The gods laughed heartily at the issue, and to see an English Corporation fly helter-skelter from a shower of heavy wet Bacchus alone looking desponding, till they promised to invoke him at their evening’s repast.

No future attempt will be so mercifully excused, unless “Charon” be the ferryman, and a contribution, in acknowledgement, made to the “Sons of Neptune.”-By command. Proteus.

The gods certainly rained on their parade!

Postcard of the Beating of the Bounds at the Nothe; http://www.weymouthinoldpostcards.co.uk/beating%20the%20bounds%201909.htm

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Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.
https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/VictorianGraphics?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Weymouth 1857; A heinous crime solved after 50 years.

I’m a great believer in karma, or what goes around, comes around, and that ultimately things will always work themselves out.

Such was the case of a heinous murder that took place in Weymouth during the late Georgian period.

This was an age when Weymouth was an up and coming, lively, gay resort, thanks to visiting Royalty and their entourage of high class followers. The hitherto workaday streets of our little town then bore witness to the rustling sounds of heavy silk  crinolines and the grandness of powdered wigs, coat tails and cravats.

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Though not quite everyone in Weymouth mixed in such salubrious circles!

HAMPSHIRE CHRONICLE

Monday 7th May 1792.

“Extract of a letter from Weymouth, dated April 28;

“Thursday a young man, of the name Thomas Lloyd Morgan, and engraver, in company with one Hardy, a farmer, in the neighbourhood, after having spent the evening together, went to a house of ill-fame about eleven at night, and the next morning, about four, the unfortunate Morgan was found murdered on the bridge, with his skull terribly fractured, and many other marks of violence on his body. The coroners inquest brought in their verdict wilful murder by some person or persons unknown. Two women and  a man named Robert Thedham, belonging to the house above-mentioned, were immediately taken into custody, as likewise the farmer with whom he was in company; they were all committed to the county prison to take their trials at the ensuing assizes. Morgan was a native of Leominster, Herefordshire, where he has parents now living in respectable circumstances.”

At the time, this brutal murder brought fear and suspicion into the heart of the local community…who could commit such a deadly deed, were they walking among the streets right now, could it even be a friend or neighbour?

Thomas’s battered and broken body had been found callously dumped by the side of the old wooden town bridge, on the Melcombe Regis side of the harbour, tightly wrapped in a linen sheet.

His grisly remains were discovered by a passing workman, who in the early morning gloom spotted a motionless shape in its makeshift shroud. Curiosity aroused, he cautiously pulled back the edges, only, he wished he hadn’t…revealed was a revolting sight, a bloodied skull staring up at him, one that was almost unrecognisable as human.

As the sun slowly rose in the sky, the soft morning light began to reveal a tell-tale trail of dried blood that led those investigating the murder back over the town bridge and into the old High Street, ending up  near Boot-Lane.

In fact it led them straight to the door of a notorious house of ill repute.

Those persons found inside the den of iniquity were rounded up and transported to the gaol awaiting trial.

Despite the obvious trail of blood from their residence to the discovered body, frustratingly, the lack of any evidence of their actual involvement in the crime meant no one was ever charged with the brutal slaughter of the chap, though not surprisingly, gossip abound for years to follow.

That was until the year 1857, when an old women who lay on her deathbed bared her soul as she prepared to meet her maker. Having carried the knowledge  of her role in the crime for nigh on all her adult life, she finally confessed to her part in the dark deed.

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As she laid nearing death, the words tumbled forth, revealing at last the answers to a 50 year old mystery.

It seems that young Thomas was in town, he was also on the look out for a good time. Accompanied by Hardy, a farmer from Chickerell, the pair made their way to that iniquitous den for an evenings entertainment.

But things that night had gone wrong…horribly wrong.

Fuelled by drink, a fierce argument broke out between in the dwelling between its occupents, and it seems that during this full on fray Thomas received the devastating and fatal blows to his skull.

Realising the seriousness of what had just happened, that they had murdered the young lad, plans were hastily made by the others to dispose of his bloody body. First wrapping it tightly in a linen sheet, under the cover of darkness they stealthily carried it out through the door and loaded it onto the back of Hardy’s horse which was tied up outside.

The guilty parties and their horse with its gruesome bundle  made their way down through the shadowy streets and over the town bridge. Their original plan had been to dispose of the body in the harbour on the Melcombe side, to deflect any suspicion from themselves.

Fate intervened though, in the stillness of the pitch black night, as man, horse and corpse crossed the bridge, they suddenly heard voices  coming from somewhere close by. The group drew to a sudden halt, they panicked, not wanting to be found with their deadly deeds of wrong doings, Thomas’s body was dragged off the horses back and dropped right where they stood, at the end of the bridge.

Beating a hasty retreat to the original scene of the crime they huddled inside the hovel, hurriedly concocting their alibis ready should anyone come knocking, little realising that in the darkness they had left an incriminating trail right back to their very door!

Farmer Hardy had indeed been questioned at the time about the murder, but he had a sound alibi for when it was supposed to have taken place.

During the death-bed confession, even that was revealed for what it was, a clever ruse by a desperate man.

Once all guilty parties had agreed on their stories, Hardy returned home, and on entering his house he simply altered the clock, turning it back by a couple of hours. After retiring to his bedroom, he then summonsed his servant, ordering them to go and check the time for him.

When he appeared before the magistrates, it was pointed out that he couldn’t have possibly been there at the time.

He had the perfect alibi!

As Priscilla Guppy, who was well over the age of 90 by the time of her imminent passing, lay back on her death-bed in the Union Workhouse, she appealed to the Lord God to save her soul, to forgive her for those terrible sins that she had carried with her all her life.

Old Priscilla was the very last survivor of the guilty group that had committed this heinous murder.

She told of how she had mercilessly beat young Thomas over his head with a flat piece of iron, battered him to death. How even as she stood before the bar of justice accused of his very murder, concealed within the filthy, bug infested tangle of her matted hair was the dead mans watch and chain.

She told of how Hardy had become a changed man, the dark deed had made his heart heavy, never again was he happy in his life.

It was even claimed that his trusty horse who had been tasked with carrying the bloodied body to its final resting place on that dark night could never be made to go near the house of ill repute ever again.

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And what became of the remains of young Thomas Lloyd Morgan?

He was buried in St Mary’s Church yard, and his tomb bore the inscription

“This stone was erected by Public Subscription in remembrance of the cruel murder committed on the body of Lloyd Morgan , who lies here, on the 27th April, aged 22.

Here mingling with my fellow clay,

I wait the awful judgement day,

And there my murderer shall appear,

Although escaped from justice here.”

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Maybe Priscilla had read those words many times and thought on to that meeting!

Her mortal remains were laid to rest on the 19th November 1857 in  Wyke Regis churchyard.

letter Civic Society.

As for her soul?…

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Visit my Pinterest page for more views of old Weymouth.

The Original Bell.

The Crabchurch Conspiracy

The Original Bell.

This is the original bell that was hanging in the bell tower of the Weymouth Old Town Hall on the night of 27th February 1645 when thousands of men under the command of the famous Royalist General, George, Lord Goring smashed through the town gates and attacked the town and Parliamentarian garrison commanded by the relatively unknown Colonel William Sydenham of Wynford Eagle in Dorset. Hundreds of royalists were killed in the ensuing battle as Sydenham proved to wily a tactician for Goring.
Sydenham went on to become Oliver Cromwell’s right hand man.

The bell is to be re-hung this spring with money made from this year’s Crabchurch Conspiracy Commemoration Weekend.

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Evidence Of Civil War !

Fascinating history of Weymouth during the Civil War, so much in here that I didn,t know about our town.

The Crabchurch Conspiracy

Evidence Of Civil War !

Many people have heard of and seen Weymouth’s famous Cannonball in the Wall in Maiden Street, Melcombe, but who has spotted this other cannon blast in the side of Pilgrim House in Hope Square ?
The house itself was rebuilt in the 18th century, but Geologist and Civil War ballistics enthusiast, Brian March, believes that the stones bearing the damage are original and from the civil war period. He further believes after studying the damage, that the missile which caused it was fired from the small fort at Bincleaves and were “a mix of hail shot and solid rounds from a standard nine pounder cannon”.

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