In late August a rumour circulated that there had been another death in Sneinton that was related to the Saville Hanging. The rumour was confirmed with the printing of newspapers on Friday August 23rd. Yet another inquest had taken place, this time at Mr Smith’s Sign of the Wrestlers. Once again the County Coroner Christopher Swann was in charge. The Inquest jury were tasked with finding the cause of death of Frederick Smith 14 years of age, who had been found dead on Saturday 16th August with a noose around his neck. Frederick was Mr Richard Morley’s servant boy and he had spoken with Thomas Hallam, Mr Morley’s farming-man on the evening of the execution. He asked if he had been to see the execution, and he said he had not. On the Saturday morning he spoke with Thomas Hallam again, “ I wonder how that man will feel as he going to be hung.?” Mr Morley’s gardener William Straw discovered Frederick hanging under shed about four o’clock, he gave an alarm and the body was immediately cut down; his hands face and arms were quite cold. Mr Burrows the surgeon was called but attempts to restore animation were fruitless. The witness Hallam noticed the cord was in four or five doubles but not quite around his neck, and the other end tied round a spar of the shed. His shirt, jacket, collar and frock were between the cord and his neck and the cord was not in a running noose. The jury returned a simple verdict, “Hung himself accidentally in trying what the sensation of hanging was, and not with the intention to destroy himself.”
This proved to be the last fatality, even the most seriously injured at the hanging recovered. Life slowly started to get back to normal. In late August and early September the farmers and close-keepers at Colwick and every other village in the shire were busy harvesting. Crops of wheat, barley, oats, beans and peas were brought in. As September drew on the town authorities were planning ahead as more troubles were expected at the end of the month. The first weekend in October was well known for the staging of the annual Goose Fair. Staged over five days it was always attended by tens of thousands. In addition, and in the same week, there were two days of racing at the Nottingham race-course on the Forest. Large crowds always attracted criminals and after the problems at Saville’s execution the town and rural police were on high alert. On Wednesday 2nd October the Mayor opened Goose Fair with a ring of the famous bell at precisely 12.00 noon. The Fair took place on the market square and attracted a huge crowd from Nottingham town and county and far beyond. The recently opened Midland Counties Railway now brought excited customers from far and near into the magnificent station in Carrington Street. From Beeston to Derby from Leicester, Rugby and Birmingham they came, making the short walk to the Market Square, one of the biggest open spaces of any town in England. The fair was a mix of the old and the new. It started around 1284 originally as a trade and animal fair and was noted for sales of cheese and geese. In 1844 there was still a Horse,Cattle and Poultry section of the Fair, the latter was still very popular. Fish was supplied from the Yorkshire coast and a popular delicacy was real Grantham Gingerbread. Bazaars selling all kinds of goods were admired and Dixon & Myers attracted the most attention. There were also a huge number of side-shows, peep shows and concerts of all kinds. Some of these were mounted in large caravans that could hold 30 paying customers. Bligh’s Exhibition purported to contain the “greatest living phenomena the world has ever seen”. This was the “Lincolnshire Fat Boy” Master John Witham 9 years old and weighing 300 pounds. Next door in another caravan was “Miss Atkinson the Yorkshire Giantess”, she was 19 years old and 7 feet high. Admission to these shows was 1 penny each . Wombwell’s Royal National Menagerie offered “the most highly trained group of lions, tigers and leopards and the stupendous performing elephant of Burmah”. In the Exchange rooms, inside the Exchange Building, daily concerts were offered by Mr H Johnsons Campanalogian Band of Lancashire, Bell ringers with Mademoiselle E Manton, vocalist. The Manton Family introduced their newly invented instrument called crystalopions “producing extraordinary effects surpassing all other musical instruments”. Seats here were either 2 shillings or sixpence for the back seats. As if all this excitement was not enough the Nottingham Races at the Forest were opened on Thursday 3rd October and ran for two days. The course here ran for a mile and a quarter and the excited spectators cheered home Mr Robinson’s horse Morpeth in the Chesterfield Handicap, the principal race.
By Sunday 6th October the excitement and the fair was all over and the Market Square slowly cleared. As feared there had been trouble at the fair and the races. Pockets had been picked, property was stolen and shop-keepers were robbed. There was little the over-stretched town police could do. There was however no serious crowd trouble or panic in Nottingham’s old and narrow streets. As October gave way to November the Midland Counties Railway along with two others were absorbed into a new company, the Midland Railway. Ambitious George Hudson had created this company and had plans to extend the railway from its current impressive terminus at Nottingham to Lincoln. The route would need to be surveyed and crossings or under-bridges provided at any known and used path or track. That would mean 5 such crossings or access points to Colwick Park alone, the Colwick to Carlton path being just one. Surveyors were now busy working on the proposed route east. When December arrived all thoughts turned to the coming Christmas festivities. The numerous birds purchased at Goose Fair were destined for the table and were being fattened up where possible. Those who could not afford poultry scoured for some last pieces of vegetation for their rabbits. In Nottingham town the shop windows were piled high with attractive goods. For the ladies, gay coloured scarfs, embroidered reticules and all the supernumerary items of female attire suddenly became the necessary article of female attire. Velvets and satins were the order of the day. For the gentleman, the jewellers glittering display were reminders of numerous little debts of kindness to repay. Children on tip-toes pressed their noses up against window displays of sweets and confectionery, before being chased away by the shop-keepers.
Christmas Day 1844 fell on a Wednesday. December had proved to be unusually dry but also very cold, and much colder than two previous years. The coal fires were banked up inside homes all around Nottingham and families enjoyed their Christmas dinner together. In Colwick, the Parr household sat down to enjoy a fine goose. It had been brought back from the fair and fattened up on Colwick pasture. In nearby Carlton the Swinscoe family were enjoying meat but not poultry. John Swinscoe,his wife son and daughter enjoyed their rabbit cooked in a pot over the fire. On Friday 27th December the Theatre Royal in Nottingham opened its winter season with an amazing triple bill, complete with a pantomime created by the proprietor. On New Year’s eve, Dr Higginbotton and his good wife enjoyed the company a number of medical friends in a box at the Theatre Royal. Invited guests included the two Davison brothers and Dr Lightfoot and their wives. They were all royally entertained. First came a new comic pantomime “State Secrets of the Tailor of Tamworth” followed by a popular farce “A husband at sight” and concluded with an entirely new Christmas pantomime titled “Harlequin and his Enchanted Twelfth Cake”. The whole evening was rounded off close to midnight with a tumultuous rendition of “Pat a Cake, Pat a Cake, Bakers Man” and all the audience joined in. The noise could be heard in the streets outside. The name of the proprietor and pantomime creator was not lost on Dr Higginbottom’s party; The entertainment was courtesy of Mr J F Saville, Lessee of the Theatre
There was no joy and laughter in the village of Kimberley as the year ended. All was still and quiet. The dry weather had broken and cold rain slanted down, driven by a cold wind. In the church yard at St Marys were a small group of gravestones belonging to the Shaw family. The rain hit the gravestones then ran down the stones in tiny rivulets. The most recent headstone was inscribed, Melicent, daughter of 7 Aug 1844 20y, William and Jane SHAW. The rain ran down and gathered inside the inscribed name, formed into small bubbles then fell like tears to the ground below. Interred below lay the body of one of eighteen innocents whose lives were lost in the very real tragedies of 1844………………………………[i]/[ii]/ [iii]/[iv]
Copyright@ Michael Sheridan 2014, All Rights Reserved
[i][i] Nottingham Mercury Friday 27th September 1844 p1 column 3
[ii] Nottingham Mercury Friday 4th October 1844 p1 column 3,4
[iii] Nottingham Mercury Friday 27th December p1 Column 4
Ok readers that’s all for now. There will be no further chapters though the final book will contain more material. I will be providing a prologue and epilogue and will also include copies of maps and photographs. There will also be a “myths de-bunked” chapter. What you have been reading is only a work in progress and for that reason I will leave all the chapters up but I will be removing the “Story so Far” as the final article will not be like that. I am currently sourcing an artist for my book cover and maybe more illustrations and working on a final edition of the story to be uploaded first as an e-book on Amazon.
Please keep checking back for news as it will appear here. I do have some very,very definite plans for marketing this book and will reveal all soon. I will be sending out press releases when the book is ready to go online.
SAVILLES SPINNEY : The True Story of the Colwick Murders
will be published in 2014
You heard about it here first!