Christmas and New Year 1844…….real events from 170 years ago!


Hello readers. This is my final blog of 2014 and it has been a very interesting year for me. In late July I uploaded my first book to Amazon. It was a steep learning curve and you never can tell how your book will be received, or indeed if anyone will actually want to buy it. Well, almost four months later I have 5 reviews and over 300 sales. That may not sound much but I am more than happy. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow! For my final blog I have decided to go back 170 years in time and to the very end of my story. Before publishing my book I had to carry out a huge amount of research including finding out what Christmas and New Year was like in the Nottingham of 1844. The information was mainly culled from the newspapers of the day and without which my book could not have written.  So here is a small gift to read, the very end pages of  the final chapter of my novel which ends with some words uttered by the man at the centre of my story, and which was his way of trying to explain the reasons for his actions…………….

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 greenery for their rabbits. In Nottingham town the shop windows were piled high with attractive goods for Christmas. For the ladies, gay coloured scarfs, embroidered reticules and all the supernumerary items of female attire were admired and desired. 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. Small children on tip-toes pressed their noses up against the many window displays of sweets and confectionery, before being chased away by the angry 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 Higginbottom and his good wife enjoyed the company of a number of medical friends in a box at the Theatre Royal. Invited guests included the two Davison brothers, Mr Booth-Eddison 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 Shaw household in the village of Kimberley as the year ended. In the church yard at St Marys in nearby Greasley were a small group of gravestones belonging to the Shaw family. The dry weather had finally broken and icy rain slanted down, driven by a strong wind. 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 a young woman, her life taken much too early. Of the thirteen whose lives were lost at the hanging only this one grave was marked. As the clock struck midnight a young woman in New Radford was crying herself to sleep. The time-piece he had given her lay smashed and smouldering in the embers of the fire downstairs. She would never be able to forget 1844.  How could she?  Was this all a bad dream? Was this just a set of seemingly unrelated events that had caused such bloodshed, loss of life and tragedy?  Or was she really the unconscious cause of the whole? THE END (Well maybe not quite………..)

So there you have it though I must point out there is an epilogue which provides another twist to the tale. If this little sample has piqued your interest you can actually go to Amazon and look inside my book and read for free the prologue and first two and a half chapters which sets the story up.. For those interested here is a link…. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Savilles-Spinney-Story-Colwick-Murders-ebook/dp/B00M20HOPU/

NOW for a very special new year gift to all my readers…… For a few days only I am making my book available for FREE! Just click on the link above and download my first book from Amazon with no charge. Feel free to share this with your contacts to and spread the good news, give them a free book!

It just remains for me to wish you and yours a happy, productive and prosperous new year 2015. I am already half way through my second book and plan to have two new books uploaded to Amazon before 2015 is out. As always I will publish news about these ventures via this blog and other social media. Thanks for taking the time to read my various blogs. This is Indie writer and researcher Mike Sheridan signing off for 2014!

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About bakersfieldlad

July 2015...... I published my first book on Amazon - "Savilles Spinnney". On April 1st 2015 I published my second book - "Arsenic Sally". Christmas Day 2015 I published my third book " Murder Mystery and Mayhem on the Railways 1830-1899. That's 3 books in roughly 18 months. I enjoy researching and see no reason to stop writing. There will be many many more books and while I would love to be taken in by a publisher I am content to make my books available via Amazon. Keep checking my blogs for updates about my upcoming projects......
This entry was posted in Becoming and Indie Author, Christmas, Christmas 1844, Colwick, Colwick Murder, Colwick Murder 1844, Coroner's Inquest, Crime and Punishment 1844, Crime in Nottingham in the 1800s, Cut-throat murder, Deaths at a Hanging, Designing a book cover, Savilles Spinney and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Christmas and New Year 1844…….real events from 170 years ago!

  1. Beleza says:

    Just finished Saville’s Spinney and saw the link to this blog, so I read the book first and now the blog. That’s backwards isn’t it? I have a blog too and will be writing a review of your book there. Sorry I don’t do Amazon reviews, just my blog and Goodreads. Anyway, I would be very interested in reading more of your stuff. Keep writing, especially historical true crime. 🙂

    • Hi Beleza, my blog did come first and I wanted it to chart my adventures in writing from the very beginning. I even uploaded draft chapters to my blog before the finished e-book was published on Amazon. One of the really good things about e-books is the opportunity to place hyperlinks and if people find my book they can also explore the linked web pages. Am currently about half way through my next historical crime book. Should have that ready around Easter but still have some research to do. Thanks for your comments.

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