Inside History Issue 10

insidehistorymagazine

In 1902, Harry Houdini came to entertain the town of Blackburn. As always, he set a challenge to the locals to produce locks that he could not escape from. William Hodgson took on the challenge that nearly brought down "The Handcuff King".

Plus

Burton & Taylor, Wyatt Earp, The Real Trojan War? 48 Hours in Carlisle, Dr John Woolf Interview, Dean Reed, Red Elvis, and much much more.

10 ISSUE

1

VOLUME

INSIDE

HISTORY

In 1902 "The

Handcuff King"

accepted a

challenge in

blackburn

Failure

could have

ended his

career

prematurely

UK £6.95

US $9.20

EU: 7.70

HOUDINI

vS

HODGSON

BURTON & TAYLOR

CHARLOTTE WHITE TAKES A

CLOSER LOOK AT HOLLYWOOD'S

MOST TURBULENT COUPLE

THE REAL WYATT EARP

MURDERER? GAMBLER?

ENFORCER? SELF-PROMOTER?

WHAT IS THE TRUTH?

DR JOHN WOOLF

TALKS TO INSIDE HISTORY ABOUT

THE WONDERS OF THE VICTORIAN

FREAK SHOW

48 HOURS IN CARLISLE

WE EXPLORE THE HISTORIC CITY OF

CARLISLE AND REVEAL OUR TOP FIVE

THINGS TO DO ON YOUR VISIT


INSIDE

HISTORY

uk.bookshop.org/shop/insidehistory


A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR

There comes a time in every magazine's life when changes have to be

made. At Inside History, we have decided to make that change. The

idea of a thematic magazine is now a thing of the past (although there

will be some as specials). Instead, we have opted to morph into a

more general history magazine.

We have decided to do this for numerous reasons but the most

important reason is to continue to give our readers the best historical

content around. This new issue is a testament to that with varied

articles, interviews, a new review section, and of course, our new

travel section dedicated to historical days out and weekends away.

In many respects, this issue is the start of a new dawn for Inside

History as we continue to strive to become one of the UK's best

History magazines. One main reason as to why we are able to do this

is our independence. As an independent magazine, we are in

complete control of what we do and it is all to give you the best

experience in this rather confusing clickbait world where clicks are

king.

Instead, we want to celebrate the best of magazine publishing

complete with creative design, glorious images, and of course, some

of the finest articles around. It has been a difficult journey but I hope

you would agree with me as I say that I believe we are onto something

very special.

So get the kettle on, sit back, relax and unwind as we take you on a

rather new historical experience. I really hope you enjoy our new

magazine and as always please feel free to get in touch. Our door is

always open to you.

N I C K K E V E R N

Editor-in-Chief

ISSUE 10

21

INSIDE

HISTORY

EDITOR

N I C K K E V E R N

DEPUTY EDITOR

36

H A N N A H P R I N G L E

DESIGN

N K D M E D I A

CONTRIBUTORS

Melissa Barndon

Camilla Bolton

Thomas Harding

Alex Hippisley-Cox

Mallory James

Bernard Jones

Nick Kevern

Hannah Pringle

Oliver Webb-Carter

Charlotte White

Dr John Woolf

IMAGES

Alamy

British Museum

Curiosity Stream

Inside History

PxHere

Pikrepo

Pixabay

Unsplash

Wellcome Collection

Wikimedia Commons

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SUBSCRIPTION

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CONTENTS

FEATURES

06

12

18

24

28

34

40

44

WHO WAS THE REAL WYATT EARP?

BURTON & TAYLOR: A TIMELESS AND

TROUBLING LOVE STORY

HOUDINI VS HODGSON

FRANCIS AUSTEN: JANE’S SEAFARING

BROTHER

THE DEMERARA UPRISING &

THE ENSLAVED ABOLITIONIST

OF 1823

THE COURT OF MIRACLES

PETER STUMPP: THE WEREWOLF OF

BEDBURG

THE REAL TROJAN WAR?

INTERVIEW

50

DR JOHN WOOLF & THE WONDERS OF

THE VICTORIAN FREAK SHOW

INSIDE REVIEW

56

60

INSIDE BOOKS

WHITE DEBT

THE PATHFINDERS

BLACK GOLD

TUNNEL 29

NOW STREAMING: RED ELVIS: THE

COLD WAR COWBOY

TRAVEL

62

68

HISTORIC WEEKENDER: 48 HOURS

IN CARLISLE

DAY TRIPPER: THE WORLD OF

STONEHENGE AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM


INSIDE

HISTORY

@INSIDEHISTORYMAG

WWW.INSIDEHISTORYMAGAZINE.CO.UK

@INSIDEHISTORYMAG

@INSIDE__HISTORY


Murderer? Myth-maker?

Self promoter? Enforcer?

WHO WAS THE REAL

WYATT

EARP?

Wyatt Earp will be forever known for his participation in the Gunfight at the O.K Corral but how

much of his legend is actually true? Inside History Editor, Nick Kevern tells us more about the

real Wyatt Earp.

06 INSIDE HISTORY



WYATT EARP

By the time Wyatt Earp had

arrived in Tombstone, Arizona, he

had already made a reputation

for himself as a lawman to be

feared.

The gunfight was over in just over 30

seconds. As the smoke cleared no one at

the time would have given it a second

thought. After all, this was the wild west. A

place where gambling, prostitution and

corruption were rife. What happened on

October 26th 1881, has become one of

the most iconic moments of American

History. The explosive crescendo would

firmly establish a narrative of the lawman

overcoming corrupt men in a lawless

town. The town, and the lawman involved,

would go on to become legends. But how

much of what we know about the Gunfight

at the OK Corral is actually true? As the

legend of Wyatt Earp has continued to

grow, can we really see him as a good cop

in difficult times?

enter the law enforcement profession

before quickly moving on to Dodge City

after seriously beating a man. Whether

he fled to escape any repercussions

we simply do not know.

Dodge City was also known as the

“Wickedest Little City in the West.” Its

fierce reputation required the same in

its police. Earp would go on to become

the assistant Marshall during the busy

cattle ranching periods. Off season, he

would head to Texas and New Mexico

to try his hand at professional

gambling.

It would be in Texas where he would

meet another participant involved at

the Gunfight at the OK Corral. John

Henry Holliday was also known as

“Doc” Holliday due to previous career

in Dentistry. Diagnosed with

consumption, Holliday knew he would

not have long to live. After a failed

dentistry partnership in Dallas, he

would spend the rest of his time

drinking and gambling. The two men

would become lifelong friends...well for

as long as Holliday would live.

Holliday’s imminent death made him

fearless. He knew the illness would kill

By the time Wyatt Earp had arrived in

Tombstone, Arizona, he had already made

a reputation for himself as a lawman to be

feared. This wasn’t to mean that he had a

squeaky clean past. He had left his first

law enforcement job in Missouri following

allegations of mishandling public funds in

1871. Later that same year he was

arrested for stealing horses but the case

never went to trial. He would find work as

an enforcer at a brothel in Illinois before

heading to Kansas. In Wichita he would rehim

eventually but was going to leave

the world on his own terms.

The town of Tombstone was a small

silver mining town in Arizona. With its

new found riches the town was a

heaven for those looking to make

money but with that, it was also a

opportunists paradise. Aside from

those searching for new wealth the

lure was too strong for the likes of

Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. This was

a town ripe for the taking as the

saloons, brothels and gambling dens

grew.

Moving to Tombstone in 1879, Wyatt

would be joined by his brothers, Virgil

and Morgan. Shortly after, Holliday

would soon join them. Virgil would be

made the Town Marshall a short time

later. The four men would become the

law in this notorious town. In October

1881, the town would pass an

ordinance prohibiting the carrying of

weapons. It would be Virgil’s job as

Town Marshall to enact it. In order to

help him to do it, Virgil deputised his

brothers and Doc Holliday. Soon, the

tempers with some in the town began

to fray.

08 INSIDE HISTORY


WYATT EARP

VIRGIL EARP

MORGAN EARP

WYATT EARP

INSIDE HISTORY 09


WYATT EARP

A caricature of Wyatt Earp after the Sharkey-Fitzimmons fight:

The public was outraged by his decision as referee and

newspapers pilloried him for many weeks afterward.

FAR LEFT: POSSIBLE IMAGE OF

Josephine Sarah Marcus,

common-law wife of Wyatt

Earp

LEFT: Wyatt and Josephine

Earp in their mining camp

near Vidal, California: This

is the only confirmed

picture of the two of them

together.

10 INSIDE HISTORY


It wouldn’t take long before arguments began to erupt.

One pivotal argument took place on the 25th October

between Doc Holliday and Ike Clanton. Clanton had a

reputation as an outlaw and well known for cattle rustling.

A fight would break out between the two men before being

broken up. However, Ike was carrying an illegal weapon

that Virgil had to remove. He would be taken to the judge

in order to face his fine. Infuriated, Ike wanted revenge not

only on Virgil but also the other Earp brothers and

Holliday. He sought out a group of five other cowboys

including his brother Billy and the McLaurys. Defying the

law they announced that they were armed and fully

intended on remaining so.

No one knows who fired first when the two opposing

parties met the next day outside the OK Corral. What we

do know is that Wyatt Earp escaped unharmed. His

brothers and Doc Holliday would be injured but alive. The

same could not be said about the Clantons and McLaurys.

Tom and Frank McLaury were dead as was Billy Clanton.

Ike and the others got away.

There would be consequences. Ike claimed that the Earps

with Holliday shot at unarmed men. This led to the quartet

being arrested themselves accusing them of murder. The

preliminary hearing would last a month where it was

proven that two of the cowboys were in fact, armed. The

trial was thrown out.

Justice had failed Ike Clanton but revenge was still on his

mind following the gunfight. Later in 1881, Virgil Earp was

ambushed and shot. Although Virgil survived, his brother

Morgan would not be so lucky in 1882 when he was killed.

Wyatt, who was now a deputy U.S Marshall formed a posse

determined to bring down those who killed his brother.

Soon there was an arrest warrant out for Wyatt and he fled

to California.

In California, Wyatt and his companion, Josephine Marcus,

laid low. He would support himself through gambling,

training horses and promoting boxing matches. In 1896 he

would even referee the fight between Bob Fitzsimmons

and Tom Sharkey. Controversy would follow Wyatt even in

the ring. Fitzsimmons dominated the fight and knocked

out Sharkey but Wyatt deemed the knock-out blow to be

illegal and awarded the fight to Sharkey. The scandal would

leave another blotch on his eventful life.

Wyatt Earp was the last surviving participant of the

gunfight at the OK Corral, passing away in his home on the

29th of January 1929. After his death he would be

portrayed as the heroic lawman we know today, thanks

largely to Stuart Lake’s 1931 book, “Wyatt Earp: Frontier

Marshall”. The book became the key source used for the

Hollywood films that we know today. Wyatt was also

involved in the making of many early westerns as a

consultant. Here, he would tell stories of the old west to

others. How much was actually true is unknown, but it

would allow Wyatt to tell his own story and in doing so,

become a legend of the Wild West. IH

O.K. Corral in Tombstone,

Arizona after a fire in 1882.

INSIDE HISTORY 11


Words: Charlotte White

Charlotte White studied Film at the

University of Westminster, is an author and

presenter. She contributes regularly to

popular podcast History Hack, specialising

in Classic Hollywood and 17th Century

England.

A Timeless

and

Troubling

Love Story

BURTON

MUSIC

TAYLOR

&

12 INSIDE HISTORY


INSIDE HISTORY 13


BURTON & TAYLOR

“I didn’t feel immoral then,

though I knew what I was doing,

loving Richard, was wrong… I

couldn’t help loving Richard”.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR

When Richard Burton and Elizabeth

Taylor met on the set of Cleopatra their

director Joe Mankiewicz told his producer

in no uncertain terms, “Liz and Burton are

not just playing Anthony and Cleopatra!”

On their first day of filming in September

1961, Richard whispered, “You’re much

too fat, luv, but I admit you do have a

pretty face.” Far from being insulted,

Elizabeth laughed. They would never be a

dull pairing, their wit Shakespearian, their

arguments as legendary as their romance.

Elizabeth’s poor health and poor

timekeeping made this a problematic

shoot, and a culture of heavy drinking did

not help matters. Richard arrived so

hungover on the day they filmed their first

scene together that she had to hold his

coffee for him to drink it but, for all their

dysfunction, there was magic when the

cameras rolled. Their first on-screen kiss

was so passionate that it continued

despite cut being called repeatedly.

Though encouraging the affair was a risky

strategy, Mankiewicz wrote new dialogue

to capitalise on it. Anthony says,

“Everything that I want to hold or love or

have or be is here with me now.”

Cleopatra replies, “What I feel I should

have felt long ago when I was very

young, when I could say to myself that

this was how love was...” Both Burton

and Taylor were married, Elizabeth to

her fourth husband having already

been dragged through the press for

adultery.

When Elizabeth married Conrad ‘Nicky’

Hilton in 1950, she was just eighteen

and her wedding dress made by the

costume department at MGM, her

studio home since the age of ten.

Highly publicised dating was MGM’s

preferred method for transitioning

former child stars into adult roles but

conditioned in scripted romance,

Elizabeth equated marriage with

happily ever after. Within days, Nicky

started beating her.

In 1952, she married Michael Wilding,

an older actor who she divorced in

1957 when the father- figure novelty

wore off. She seemed to have it all

figured out when she married

producer Mike Todd later that year; he

was passionate and fun, but he died in

a plane crash in 1958. Widowed at

twenty- six she sought comfort in her

husband’s married best friend, Eddie

Fisher who she wed in 1959. When

attacked by Hedda Hopper for

stealing Debbie Reynolds' husband,

Elizabeth famously replied “What do

you expect me to do? Sleep alone?”

Hearing rumours that Elizabeth was

homewrecking again, paparazzi

swarmed about the couple and the

Vatican denounced their relationship

in the press.

Burton and Taylor represent the

beginning of a societal shift from the

morality of the 1940s and 1950s –

perpetuated in Hollywood through

the Production Code – to the sexual

liberation of the 1960s and 1970s,

which would take the last of the

Studio System down with it. The

studios had been able to control their

stars with the inclusion of a ‘morality

clause’ in their contract, misbehaviour

penalised by loss of earnings. By her

continued box office appeal despite

repeated moral transgressions,

Elizabeth broke the stick with which

the studios threatened to beat her.

No studio could afford to sack

Elizabeth Taylor while the public paid

to see her.

14 INSIDE HISTORY


BURTON & TAYLOR

INSIDE HISTORY 15


BURTON & TAYLOR

“I didn’t feel immoral then, though I knew

what I was doing, loving Richard, was

wrong… I couldn’t help loving Richard,”

Elizabeth writes in 1965. This sentiment

was shared by Richard’s older sister

Cecilia who raised him with her own

children in Port Talbot.

Richard Jenkins was born into a mining

family in Pontrhydyfen, South Wales.

When he was two years old, his mother

died and his father absented himself in

his grief. Richard would tell tales of his

father’s drinking and gambling with

affection but, when he was told that his

father had died, he asked “which one?”

He was adopted at seventeen by his

acting teacher, Philip Burton who gave

him his name and nurtured his talent by

having him read Shakespeare up in the

Welsh mountains to strengthen his voice,

the baritone that would become his

trademark.

At twenty-three, and making his name on

the London stage, Richard married Sybil

Williams the girl he would have chosen

had he stayed in Wales. She understood

him, and they had an understanding that

whichever co-star led him astray, he

would always come home to her. To

Elizabeth, she was Octavia and the day of

filming Cleopatra’s meltdown at

Anthony’s marriage coincided with

Richard telling the papers he would

never leave his wife. So violent was her

performance that a doctor had to be

called and Elizabeth’s hand x-rayed for

damage.

True to his word, Richard went home

when filming wrapped but he could not

stop seeing Elizabeth. It was no use

trying to be apart, they needed to be

together, and their respective divorces

were granted in December 1963 and

January 1964.

They married on 15th March 1964 and

the following night after his performance

as Hamlet, Richard took six curtain calls.

Finally, he said, “I would like to quote

from the play… We will have no more

marriages,” and brought the house

down.

Far from being sated by their marriage,

the public was hungrier than ever for the

Burton-Taylors. The week after their

wedding, hundreds of fans clamoured

for them so violently that one

eyewitness described fearing

Elizabeth would be pulled in two.

News outlets fed upon their decadent

lifestyle of private jets, yachts,

priceless artworks, and jewels – so

famous the jewellery that Richard

lavished upon his wife, that two of the

most important diamonds in the

world now bear their names. The

most spectacular being the Krupp

(Elizabeth Taylor) Diamond, 33ct and

flawless bought in 1968 for $305k.

Richard also gave vast sums of money

to his family, friends, Welsh mining

communities, and complete

strangers, but stories of their excess

sold better.

They starred in ten feature films

together, all capitalising upon public

perception of their relationship

– burning passion, violent courtships,

warring spouses. He encouraged her

to push her boundaries as an actress

and though they were a double-act,

their contributions were never

recognised or remunerated equally.

He may have been the great actor,

but she was the star. She won the

OSCAR for her performance in Who’s

Afraid of Virginia Woolf? whilst he was

nominated seven times without

winning. She out-earned him on every

film until she turned forty.

They mirrored each other as much as

they were mirror opposites, both

suffering debilitating back pain but

managing it by opposing means. She

fell from a horse on set at twelve

years old and was under doctors and

prescription medication for the rest of

her life, while he chose to selfmedicate

old injuries with alcohol.

With their acerbic personalities and a

reliance upon drink and drugs, violent

verbal and physical outbursts became

the norm. Elizabeth writes, “Even our

fights are fun… Richard loses his

temper with true enjoyment. It’s

beautiful to watch,” and by all

accounts, their fights were evenly

matched.

Richard provides an insight writing,

“Elizabeth and I both suffer from

feelings of insecurity... What we do

“Even our fights are

fun… Richard loses

his temper with true

enjoyment. It’s

beautiful to watch,”

when we go to parties is drink to kill

the icy isolation.” He worried he was

dull sober. A voracious reader and

quiet scholar by nature, his ability to

quote Shakespearian monologue

from memory made Elizabeth feel

intellectually inferior, having only an

MGM studio school education. She

feared he would tire of her limited

conversation and leave.

To this perfect Molotov cocktail of

insecurities, add a dash of aging

actress deemed too old to play

Anne Boleyn opposite her husband’s

Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand

Days, and persistent suspicion of his

leading ladies. After leaving Sybil for

her, Richard wore his fidelity to

Elizabeth proudly, so when he did

become attracted to others, he knew

the jig was up. As ever art mimicked

real life and the Burton-Taylor’s final

film together was a TV two-parter

examining the breakdown of a

marriage called Divorce His, Divorce

Hers which aired in February 1973.

On 4th July, a statement issued by

Elizabeth Taylor made the front

pages:

“I am convinced that it would be a

good and constructive idea if Richard

and I are separated for a while,” she

writes. “Maybe we loved each other

too much... But we have been in each

other’s pockets constantly… and I

believe it’s caused a temporary

breakdown of communication. I

believe with all my heart that the

separation will ultimately bring us

back to where we should be – and

that’s together… Wish us well during

this difficult time. Pray for us.” This

‘conscious uncoupling’ was wildly

ahead of its time.

Elizabeth Taylor was granted her first

divorce from Richard Burton in June

1974 but called the following day to

ask him if they had made the right

16 INSIDE HISTORY


decision. They worked separately and dated other people

but were never out of touch. When they met again in

Switzerland in August 1975 Richard writes, “On the third

day, we had a fight. Then we knew we were ourselves

again.” Two days after that, they were engaged and

married in October 1975. By Christmas, it was over again

and when Richard flew to New York in January 1976, he

took his girlfriend Suzy Hunt with him. He did not care

what Elizabeth thought, but she was tired of him and did

not fight to keep him.

The Burton-Taylors were granted their second divorce in

July 1976 and went their separate ways. Richard married

Suzy in August 1976 and Elizabeth married an aspiring

senator in December 1976. Losing herself on the

campaign trail, neither acting nor happy, she sought

comfort in alcohol and food and by the time William

Warner Jr was elected in November 1978, their marriage

was over. She signed on to do a play on Broadway and

used its opening date as motivation to get healthy,

shedding both the weight and the husband by February

1981. Elizabeth Taylor was back.

Elizabeth and Richard met again in February 1982, both

having fresh divorces and more water under the bridge

than most. She was shocked to see his physical

deterioration; his right arm all but useless, the back

injuries, shoulder pains, arthritis, sciatica, and gout taking

their toll on the giant of a man she still loved. She asked

him to star with her in a West End production of Noel

Cowards ‘Private Lives’. Playing a divorced couple staying in

the same hotel with new spouses, Elizabeth could act out

a nightly fantasy in which their characters realise they still

love each other despite themselves.

However, in reality Richard had another girlfriend, and

when Elizabeth refused to release him from his contract to

star in a John Huston movie, he used his weekend off to

marry in Las Vegas. Elizabeth retaliated by becoming

engaged to her current suitor, but she would love Richard

until the day he died.

On 5th August 1984, Richard Burton died suddenly of a

cerebral haemorrhage at the age of fifty-eight.

Elizabeth was inconsolable. She was not permitted to

attend either his funeral or his memorial service by

Richard’s widow for fear of media intrusion, but the

paparazzi got their payday eventually when Elizabeth

visited the wrong cemetery looking for his grave.

This Cleopatra did live on without her Anthony, surviving

him by twenty-seven years in which she loved again but

never the in the same way. When Elizabeth died in 2011 at

the age of seventy-nine, she was buried with Richard’s last

love letter written shortly before his death, which she

received after he was gone.

Burton and Taylor continue to fascinate with their

imperfect love story, its passion aspirational, its violence

anything but. They were Anthony and Cleopatra, George

and Martha, Petruchio and Katharina; Shakespeare himself

putting perfection in Burton’s mouth when he wrote,

“where two raging fires meet together, they do consume

the thing that feeds their fury… Yet extreme gusts will

blow out fire and all.” They could not continue to rage, yet

never truly burned out, and remain smouldering together

upon the screen for all time, their love story timeless, and

troubling. IH

INSIDE HISTORY 17


Of all the towns Harry Houdini visited

during his career, there was one that

he would come to dislike the most. In

1902, William Hope Hodgson would take

on a challenge set by the great

escapologist. It would be a night no one

in the town of Blackburn, lancashire,

would ever forget.

HOUDINI

VS

Hodgson


HOUDINI VS HODGSON

"Back to this wretched town. Of

all the hoodlum towns I ever

worked, the gallery is certainly

the worst".

HARRY HOUDINI

Houdini loved a challenge. In fact, he

had made a entire career from them. In

the early days of his career the premise of

his challenges were a simple one for “the

handcuff king”. Wherever he went, he

urged the local community to find a set of

locks that they believed he could never

escape from. Every time, he would. The

audience simply loved it. It would become

the gimmick he would be famed for as he

travelled from theatre to theatre. He knew

that the auditorium would be full of

spectators and even those who took on

his challenge in the hope that perhaps,

they would see him fail. And yet, he would

succeed, defying the impossible. These

challenges would put Houdini on the

magical map.

However, in the northern English town of

Blackburn, “the handcuff king” nearly met

his match. It would become a venue that

Houdini would go on the loathe more

than any other he performed at across

the world. It was the night that almost

halted his career after its promising start.

Whilst he would go on to become the

most famous magician in the world,

Blackburn’s challenge could have

prevented the world from knowing the

name of Houdini.

"Being interested in

your apparently

anatomically impossible

handcuff test, I have

decided to take up your

challenge".

William Hope Hodgson took up bodybuilding

since his days as a cabin boy

following years of mistreatment by

other crew members. Moving to

Blackburn to join his family he would

set up a school for body building and

weight lifting.

Houdini would perform at the

Blackburn Palace in October 1902 and

like many of his performances he

would lay down his challenge to those

in the local area. Should he fail to get

out of the locks provided, he would

pay the successful opponent the

princely sum of £25. Upon seeing this

challenge, Hodgson's interest grew.

He knew the physicality that it would

require to escape from the locks and

chains he could provide. Yet despite

Houdini performing at The Palace all

week, Hodgson waited until the Friday

to make his move. He knew that the

galleries would be full that particular

evening with the audience wanting to

see something special. Hodgson wrote:

Mr Harry Houdini.

Sir –

Being interested in your apparently

anatomically impossible handcuff test, I

have decided to take up your challenge

to-night (Friday) on the following

conditions:

1st I bring and use my own irons (so

look out).

2nd I iron you myself.

3rd If you are unable to free yourself,

the £25 to be given to the Blackburn

Infirmary.

Should you succeed, I shall be the first

INSIDE HISTORY 19


Palace Theatre, Blackburn


to offer to offer congratulations. If not,

then the Infirmary will benefit.

W. HOPE. HODGSON

P.S. Naturally, if your challenge is bonafide,

I shall expect the money to be

deposited .

With the challenge laid down by William

Hodgson, all he had to do was to sit back

and wait for Houdini's response. It

wouldn't take long for Houdini to do

exactly that.

I, Harry Houdini, accept the above

challenge, and will deposit the £25 at the

“Telegraph” office. Match to take place tonight

(Friday).

H. HOUDINI

The two men would met on stage in front

of the packed Palace audience. Neither

man would have known that this

moment would go down in local history.

Straight away, Houdini noticed

something particularly odd with the locks

that Hodgson had provided. He raised

his objections aloud suggested that the

locks had been tampered with and

where therefore in violation to the

agreed challenge.

Hodgson responded saying he was

allowed to bring any locks and chains

that he wanted. The audience waited

with baited breath as to whether of not

the challenge would even go ahead.

Eventually, Houdini agreed and Hodgson

began to fasten up his challenger.

The Blackburn Standard gives us the full

details of Houdini's ordeal at the hands

of Hodgson:

"He handcuffed his wrists which he

bound across his chest: and then by

the aid of an assistant, forced his

elbows backwards to his side and

pinioned them, after which he

coupled them up in a very tight

manner to leg irons, and Houdini

looked for all the world like a like

a trussed fowl."

Hodgson received some assistance

causing the crowd to jeer, after all,

this was against the rules set by

Houdini. Yet the "Handcuff King"

allowed the challenge to continue. He

was winning his audience's

sympathies and that would help him

as the challenge continued.

Houdini was then placed into an

empty cabinet. The audience fell silent

with anticipation. Then he began his

attempt to escape. The crowded

auditorium erupted as the sound of

metal on wood filled the theatre.

After fifteen minutes of struggling the

upright cabinet suddenly fell to the

side. The mutters of the audience

turned to confusion and even

concern.

What's happening? Has he fainted or

something? Is this all part of the

show?

The struggle continued. On the hour

mark, Houdini asked if he could be

released for a few moments as he

was losing the feeling in his hands.

The locks were so tight that some

even said that his hands were turning

blue.

For Hodgson, it appeared that he had

defeated the great "Handcuff King.

"Just give up and admit defeat", he

said. But giving up was not in

Houdini's vocabulary. Dr, Bradley was

watching the whole episode unfold

before his very eyes saying that: "it

was cruel for the performance to

continue".

But continue it did.

Hodgson refused Houdini's request.

His struggle recommenced. Shouting

from the cabinet, Houdini proudly

announced that his legs were now

free and that he was going for a short

break. The news received a mixed

reception from the Blackburn crowd.

Some cheered whilst others were

"Ladies and

gentlemen, I have

been in the handcuff

business for fourteen

years but never have I

been so brutally and

cruelly ill-treated".

beginning to become hostile towards

him. Sensing the hostility Houdini

spoke to the audience.

“You must remember, ladies and

gentlemen, I did not state the

time it would take me to take

them off. These handcuffs have

been plugged.”

Having rested Houdini resumed. The

crowd however where becoming

restless. Then Theodore Hardeen,

Houdini's brother approached the

cabinet to offer him a drink. The pair

had previously performed together as

"The Houdini Brothers" in the U.S. It

may have looked at first glance as a

simple drink but perhaps this was

where the real slight of hand

happened. Of course, we will never

know for certain and the audience

were unaware of anything.

With the crowd becoming even

hostile, Hodgson was urged by the

police to leave the theatre.

Then moments later, Houdini was free

from his chains and locks after his

epic struggle. It was now well after

midnight. The crowd roared in

appreciation for what they had

witnessed.

Houdini was raw, bruised and

exhausted following this challenge.

Hodgson had become the man who

took Houdini to the brink. Standing

victorious, Houdini spoke to the

crowd one final time:

"Ladies and gentlemen, I have been in

the handcuff business for fourteen

years but never have I been so

brutally and cruelly ill-treated.

It would be the closest Houdini ever

INSIDE HISTORY 21



came to defeat. It would become the most pivotal moment

of his career.

Blackburn itself would become a place Houdini loathed the

most later saying that "Of all the hoodlum towns I ever

worked, the gallery is certainly the worst". It would be a

constant reminder to him how close he actually came to

failure.

William Hope Hodgson may have lost the battle against

Houdini but that did not prevent him from becoming a

success in his own right. He would move away from the

controversy of plugging locks against Houdini to become

one of Britain's most famous horror and supernatural

authors. The House on the Borderland would become an

instant classic among readers and critics.

Yet, his life would be cut short at the fourth Battle of Ypes

where he was killed by an artillery shell in 1918. He was 40

years old.

Houdini would go on to be the world's most famous

magician. His escapology acts would see him perform in

front of millions and gather worldwide fame. Yet, it all

could have ended earlier with a trip to Blackburn and a

challenge by William Hodgson. IH

Above: Houdini with his brother Theodore Hardeen.

Left: Houdini continues to set Challenges in Salford 1914

INSIDE HISTORY 23


Francis

Austen:

Jane’s Seafaring Brother

MALLORY JAMES



FRANCIS AUSTEN

Sir Francis Austen was born (without

the title) in Steventon, Hampshire in 1774.

He was the fifth son of Revd. George

Austen and the older brother of Jane, who

would arrive the following year. In April

1786, just before his twelfth birthday,

Francis commenced his studies at the

Royal Naval Academy in Portsmouth.

These studies would cost his father

around £50 a year. And although this £50

was unquestionably a large sum at the

time – the Bank of England inflation

calculator suggests this would be in

excess of £8,000 now – joining the Royal

Navy was cheaper than other professions

considered suitable for boys in Francis’

social circles. Commissions in the Army

had to be purchased, for instance. So, for

this reason, and of course plenty of

others, young boys found themselves

launched into a seafaring career.

Nevertheless, in December of that year, it

seems young Francis was still able to

return to the rectory for Christmas. And

he excelled in his education at the

Academy, receiving a glowing

commendation when he left in 1788. He

then joined his first ship, HMS

Perseverance. However, this time, Francis

would not go home for Christmas. In fact,

he would not return to England for

nearly five years.

A life at sea during this time was

fraught with numerous hazards and

struggles. Not least that Francis’ career

ran parallel to the French Revolution

and subsequent Napoleonic Wars. But

many sailors also suffered, and lost

their lives, in consequence of accidents

and disease. The adequate provision

of food was a serious issue. In his later

career, Francis would experiment with

the best way of preserving cheese

during a voyage.

Yet, as the above paragraph suggests,

the distance from home and loved

ones cannot be forgotten. It’s played

out in the letters between Francis and

his own family. Before Francis left on

that first voyage, the Revd. Austen

wrote his teenage son a letter of on

conduct and conscience, as a guide for

all the time he would not be there to

advise him. It included an extortion to

write detailed letters home. But, again,

time and distance mattered. In

November 1798, Francis wrote in a

letter to Jane that he had had no post

from their family for ten weeks. In

October 1800, Jane received a letter

from him that had been written back in

July.

Francis’ life is a way to consider the

lives of officers more widely during this

period, and there were three further

things which played central and

defining roles in shaping naval

experiences: patronage, promotions

and prizes.

The traditional way of starting a boy’s

career in the Royal Navy was to secure

them a place aboard a ship, under the

patronage of its captain. This method

had endured in popularity, even after

the Academy (as attended by Francis)

had been founded as an alternative.

Having the right friends and relations

to secure this placement was naturally

beneficial. And as an officer’s career

progressed, advantageous connections

continued to act as the wind to the

sails for placements and promotions.

For example, long after his time at the

Academy – and only a few months

before the fateful Battle of Trafalgar –

Francis would hand a letter to Lord

Nelson, in which Lord Moira

recommended him for promotion.

26 INSIDE HISTORY


With further reference to promotion, after becoming a

midshipman in 1789, Francis was promoted to lieutenant

in 1792. He was aged eighteen at the time, despite the

regulations requiring lieutenants to be a minimum age of

twenty. Promotion from midshipman to lieutenant also

hinged upon passing a rather daunting verbal exam,

conducted by five senior officers. By the end of the

decade, Francis had been promoted to commander. And

at the start of the next, he was promoted to captain.

However, once an officer had reached the rank of captain,

they joined what was effectively an orderly queue for each

rung on the ladder of ranks, with officers stepping up to fill

the shoes of the one before. It was (generally speaking) a

matter of waiting for one’s turn. Taking Francis’ life as an

example once again, he became a rear admiral in 1830. In

1863 he became Admiral of the Fleet – the most senior

rank of the Royal Navy.

The last great ‘P’ of note is ‘prizes’. When Royal Navy

vessels captured other ships, they were taken as prizes. Its

value was then calculated upon sale, and divided among

the crew. Through winning prize money, a lucky officer

might make his fortune. In Persuasion, Captain Wentworth

gained the fairly substantial sum of £25,000 and elevated

himself to the standing of Very Eligible Bachelor. In 1801,

Charles Austen – who had followed his older brother,

Francis, into the Royal Navy – spent his recent prize money

on purchasing two topaz crosses and gold chains for his

sisters, Jane and Cassandra. Jane, delighting in the finery,

remarked to Cassandra that prize money would do Charles

no good, if he spent it on them.

Francis’ career was also notable by an event he recalled

with regret. In 1805, he missed the Battle of Trafalgar. He

wrote, feelingly, on the subject to his fiancée Mary Gibson.

He also wrote about the loss of Nelson, believing that he

would not meet such a man again. Francis and Mary were

married in 1806, and in family letters – penned by Jane –

teasingly threatened to choose furniture for their home

that Cassandra wouldn’t like.

Francis’ career changed course shortly before the

conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, spending thirty years

ashore and on half-pay. After the death of Mary in 1823,

Francis married Martha Lloyd (a close friend of both Jane

and Cassandra) in 1828. In 1830, he purchased Portsdown

Lodge, near Portsmouth. He had been appointed a

Companion of the Order of Bath in 1815, then becoming a

Knight Commander in 1837 and a Knight Grand Cross in

1860. Aged ninety-one, Francis died at Portsdown Lodge in

August 1865. The letter from his father, written all those

years before at the very start of his naval career, was still

amongst his papers. IH

Mallory James studied for her undergraduate

degree in History and German at University

College London, before moving to postgraduate

study at Queen Mary University of London. She is

the author of Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth

Century published by Pen & Sword Books

Jane Austen

Welcomed as a

companion to her

older sister Cassandra,

Jane was born in

December 1775. She

would later go on to

become an author of

lasting fame. Her

novels Portrait included of Gabriel Nicolas a de La Reynie (1625-1709) Lieutenant

General of Police of Paris during the reign of Louis XIV.

number of naval

characters, such as

Captain Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion and

Midshipman (later Lieutenant) William Price in

Mansfield Park. Though, prior to this, she had

dedicated some of her earlier writings to her brother

Francis, while he was serving away as a midshipman

on HMS Perseverance. She died in July 1817 – aged

forty one – with Francis among the mourners at her

funeral in Winchester.

Charles Austen

Born in June 1779, and the

youngest of the Austen’s

children, Charles followed

his elder brother to the

Royal Naval Academy in

1791. He served aboard,

and later commanded, a

number of vessels. This

included HMS Phoenix,

which was wrecked

in 1816. Charles was

brought before a court

martial for this loss, and

honourably acquitted.

He eventually attained

the rank of rear admiral

in November 1846, and

died of cholera aboard

HMS Flute in 1852.

INSIDE HISTORY 27


THE

DEMERARA

UPRISING &

THE ENSLAVED ABOLITIONIST

OF 1823

THOMAS HARDING



DEMERARA

The enslaved, outnumbered the

Europeans more than thirty to one. To

control the population, the white

managers and overseers believed they

had to use the very harshest measures,

including stocks, the whip and jail.

At 6.30 pm on 18th August 1823, Jack

Gladstone walked up to the large bell that

hung at the centre of the sugar plantation,

and rang it. This was the signal for the

start of the uprising, that would become

the largest revolt against British slavery up

to that point.

Jack Gladstone was twenty-eight years old

and was enslaved on the Success

plantation, an estate located on the

Atlantic coast of the British colony of

Demerara, now Guyana. He worked as a

cooper making hogsheads, the enormous

barrels that transported the sugar back to

Liverpool. His job included delivering

these barrels to the port in Georgetown,

the capital, twenty miles down the coast.

This meant that Jack was able to travel

outside of the plantation which was

unusual. Most enslaved men and women

would be severely punished if they left

their estate without permission. It was in

Georgetown that Jack likely first heard of

the remarkable news, that the King of

England had sent a letter to the governor

of Demerara, John Murray, calling for the

amelioration of slavery.

In 1823, slavery was very much still legal in

the British Empire. There were more than

650,000 people enslaved in the British

Caribbean. The slave trade had been

abolished sixteen years earlier, in

1807, but this did not prohibit the

forced work of enslaved people on

plantations nor the selling of enslaved

people between British colonies. It was

also still possible to purchase enslaved

women, men and children at the

Vendue, or slave auction, that took

place regularly in Georgetown.

Of the more than 70,000 enslaved

people living in Demerara at this time,

more than half were born in Africa.

They therefore remembered their

homelands and what it was like to be

free. There were approximately 2,500

Europeans living in the colony, along

with about the same number of mixedrace

people and an unknown number

of indigenous people. The enslaved,

therefore, outnumbered the

Europeans more than thirty to one. To

control the population, the white

managers and overseers believed they

had to use the very harshest

measures, including stocks, the whip

and jail. According to some sources,

average life expectancy was as short as

five years for those who worked on the

sugar estates.

For much of the 18th century,

Demerara had been a Dutch colony.

For decades, control shifted between

Amsterdam and London. The matter

was finally settled in 1804 and the

colony became part of the British

Empire. Though the sovereign was

now King George IV, the colony

continued to be governed under

Dutch law and the currency was the

Dutch guilder. The law was

administered by a court of policy,

headed by the governor, and order

was enforced by the British militia.

When Jack Gladstone had first heard

about the King’s letter, he had

approached his father, Quamina. They

agreed that they should wait and see

if the instructions from London would

be implemented. If not, they would

take action. After two weeks, there

was still no word from the governor or

the court of policy. Quamina had

spoken to John Smith, the missionary

who ran the church that Jack and his

father attended on the next-door

estate, Le Resouvenir. Smith said that

he had also heard about the letter

30 INSIDE HISTORY


DEMERARA

INSIDE HISTORY 31


DEMERARA

from the King but cautioned patience, suggesting that the

governor would in time announce changes. But none

came.

This was why Jack was now ringing the bell. Within minutes,

more than forty men and women gathered around him.

For days, they had been preparing for this. It was time to

act, Jack said, time to seize the estates, time to win their

freedom. They first removed the guns, cutlasses and

ammunition from the estate’s storehouse. They had

previously agreed that they would pursue non-violent

tactics, by seizing their oppressor’s weapons they would

protect themselves against future attack. Next, Jack sent a

small group to find the estate’s overseer and manager and

place them in the stocks. With this accomplished, they had

control of the first plantation. Jack led the group of

enslaved abolitionists – for that is what they were, enslaved

men and women who wished to abolish slavery – along the

public road that ran along the coast, taking control of one

plantation and then the next.

Early on the morning of Wednesday 20th August, more

than 4,000 enslaved abolitionists gathered in the cotton

field near the shoreline by Bachelor’s Adventure estate. A

small few had rifles, the vast majority were armed with only

sticks and other hand-made weapons. By this point more

than thirty estates had been seized across the colony with

between 12,000 and 15,000 people taking part. By any

measure, the uprising had exceeded expectations.

Yet, all that had been achieved was about to be tested. In

front of the abolitionists, on the other side of the dusty

public road, was lined up two hundred soldiers from the

British Militia. Lieutenant Colonel John Thomas Leahy now

trotted out to meet with Jack, it was a parley. When Leahy

asked what the enslaved people wanted, Jack said their

freedom. His comment was met by loud cheers of support.

Leahy said this was impossible and that Jack and his

comrades must immediately surrender, or he would be

forced to take extreme measures. Jack repeated his

demands. Leahy then retreated to his men.

Most of all, he had Tupaia’s help when he met wary

islanders in other archipelagos. With Tupaia mediating,

these encounters went smoothly.

A tense silence hung between the two lines. The militia

kept their rifles trained on their targets across the public

road. The abolitionists held their ground. Thirty minutes

came and went. Nothing happened. And then Leahy called

the order: ‘Right face, march!’ The line of soldiers headed

towards the abolitionists, stopping less than fifty yards

away. ‘You Negroes,’ the colonel shouted, ‘I ask you once

more, in the governor’s name, will you lay down your arms

and go to your work?’ Those around Jack yelled out, ‘No!’

and ‘We fight for freedom.’ The colonel shouted, ‘Fire!’ The

sound of gunpowder exploding in a hundred rifles filled

the air. Scores of men and women collapsed in the cotton

Depiction of battle at "Bachelor's Adventure", one of the major confrontations during the rebellion

32 INSIDE HISTORY


field, screaming in pain, clutching at their wounds.

Meanwhile, the militia front row reloaded while the men

behind stepped forward and fired. Another hundred

bullets were let loose. In less than fifteen minutes it was

over. More than two hundred abolitionists were dead. It

had been a bloodbath. Those able to escape had fled.

Meanwhile, the militia kept loading and shooting, loading

and shooting, loading and shooting.

Jack had managed to flee the carnage. Evading his

pursuers, he skirted the shoreline and made his way back

to Success. A few hours later, he headed for the bush

behind the plantation, along with his father and eighteen

others. There they hid for the next few weeks, regrouping

and plotting their next step. Meanwhile, the British Militia

went from estate to estate clearing out the rebels. More

than 200 abolitionists were captured and then, following

the briefest of questioning, lined up in the fields and shot.

Fifty of the ringleaders were taken to Georgetown where

they were later tried and hanged. Their heads then cut off

and affixed to poles as a warning to other would-be rebels.

Amongst those found guilty and sentenced to death was

John Smith, the English missionary who abhorred slavery

and had supported his congregants.

the anti-slavery movement had experienced a collapse in

public support. To many, the argument had long been

won, even though more than 650,000 people remained

enslaved in the Caribbean. This all changed when news

arrived back in England of the uprising and the public

learned of the appalling conditions endured by the

enslaved men and women in Demerara. Soon, a massive

petition campaign was in full swing. Members of

Parliament were bombarded by letters demanding a full

end to slavery in the Empire. A two-day debate took place

in the House of Commons, calling for a review of the court

martials that had taken place in Georgetown, particularly

the fate of John Smith.

Ten years after the uprising, the Slavery Abolition Act was

finally passed. In August 1834, slavery was outlawed across

the British Empire. And while colonial exploitation

continued, including a period of apprenticeship and later a

system of indentureship, the abolition of slavery marked a

significant step towards freedom, not only for those

enslaved, but for all of us. As such, Jack Gladstone and the

other enslaved abolitionists should be remembered for

their heroic efforts. IH

In early September, Jack’s father Quamina was hunted

down and shot. He had offered no resistance. His body

was strung up on a gibbet next to the entrance of Success,

again a sign from the British colonists that they would not

tolerate any form of resistance. A few days later, Jack found

himself in the main hall of Colony House in Georgetown

facing a court martial. Every member of the court martial

(equivalent to a jury) had served in the British militia, the

same force that had recently suppressed the uprising. The

president of the court martial was Lieutenant Colonel

Stephen Arthur Goodman who for the past two years had

been the colony’s vendue master. As such, the man

presiding over Jack’s trial was also the man in charge of the

valuation, sale and transfer of enslaved people in

Demerara. The proceedings were unlikely to be objective.

Without the assistance of any lawyer, Jack had to defend

himself. He was responsible for preparing his legal

strategy, examining witnesses, and providing evidence.

From the surviving records, it is clear that he did well.

Despite the overwhelming odds, he persuaded the court

that his efforts had been rational, that there had been a

letter sent from London which had called for the

amelioration of the slave conditions and that these

instructions had not been implemented by the governor.

The anger towards him and his fellow abolitionists,

however, was too much. The court martial found him guilty

and sentenced him to hang. In the end, partly because of

his numerous efforts to prevent violence against the

colonists, the governor gave Jack clemency. What exactly

happened to Jack is not known, but he was likely deported

to the Island of St Lucia, to spend the rest of his life

working in hard labour.

The Demerara uprising had significant consequences. Ever

since the successful abolition of the slave trade in 1807,

Georgetown’s monument to the Demerara Uprising

Thomas Harding is a bestselling writer whose

books have been translated into more than 16

languages. He is the author of The House by the

Lake: A Story of Germany and Blood on the

Page: A Murder, a Secret Trial, and the Search

for the Truth, which won the 2018 Gold Dagger

Award. His latest book is White Debt: The

Demerara Uprising and Britain’s Legacy of

Slavery

INSIDE HISTORY 33


THE

Court of

Miracles

Melissa Barndon



COURT OF MIRACLES

"Contemporary images of 17th century Paris

may have focused on grandiose buildings

and richly dressed ladies promenading in

the Jardin des Tuileries, but the reality was

that up to 30,000 Parisians lived in

miserable, unsanitary conditions in a

number of slum areas".

As the people of Paris slept through

the night of 23 February 1653, the

aristocrats were amusing themselves at

the Ballet Royal de la Nuit held at the

palace of the Louvre. This sumptuous

performance showcased a night in Paris,

with the elite playing the roles of thieves

and beggars. And as the sun rose so too

did a young Louis XIV, performing as

Apollon, resplendent and dazzling in gold,

to finish the performance and defeat the

unfortunate creatures of this criminal

underworld. He would bring his forces

together to do the same thing, only this

time in real life slums, a mere 14 years

later.

17th century Paris under Louis XIV was

booming. The Pont Neuf across the Seine

river was a busy thoroughfare for

pedestrians and carriages, the Île Saint

Louis was a hive of new construction, and

Louis XIV’s insistence on French-made

fabrics meant that the fashion industry

was thriving. Paris was the place to be,

especially if you had money. And if you

didn’t have money, Paris was the place to

find it. Peasants from all parts of France

streamed into the narrow and crooked

streets of the capital to make their

fortune.

Unfortunately, many of them ended up

as destitute as when they arrived, and

were forced to turn to begging or

thievery just to survive. Contemporary

images of 17th century Paris may have

focused on grandiose buildings and

richly dressed ladies promenading in

the Jardin des Tuileries, but the reality

was that up to 30,000 Parisians lived in

miserable, unsanitary conditions

in a number of slum areas.

But there was a rather peculiar nightly

occurrence in one of these shady

underworlds. As the crippled or blind

or wounded beggars limped through

the narrow passageway, they threw

away their canes or regained their

sight; it was a miracle! And thus some

slum areas came to be ironically

known as a Cour des Miracles, a Court

of Miracles. There were several of

these, shadowy nooks, crannies and

corners where beggars or thieves

congregated, but the largest and most

famous was the one located between

Rue Montorgeuil and Rue Saint-Denis,

next to the now disappeared Filles de

Dieu convent.

According to historian Henri Sauval,

writing around 1660, the Court of

Miracles was as old as beggars

themselves: ‘Formerly at the

extremities of Paris, now in one of the

most poorly built, dirtiest and remote

districts of Paris, it is a large,

misshapen, unpaved cul de sac,

entered through a long slope of

winding, rough and uneven ground. It

is very easy to get lost in the nasty,

malodorous streets’. Whilst the royal

night ballet of 1653 may have

‘represented the tenants of the Cour

des Miracles by a serenade and

pleasant postures’, for Sauval the

reality was much different. ‘I saw a

mud house half buried tottering with

old age and rot, lodging fifty

households and an infinite number of

children, either legitimate, natural or

stolen. Girls and

women prostituted themselves for 2

farthings. Some double that, some for

nothing at all’.

Entry was made at your own risk. In

1630, masons who were attempting

to build a new road through the court

were beaten and threatened, and any

commissioner who tried to collect

taxes or rent left there empty handed,

36 INSIDE HISTORY


COURT OF MIRACLES

Engraving representing "the great Coësre", extracted from the Collection of the most illustrious proverbs divided into three books: the first contains the

moral proverbs, the second the joyful and pleasant proverbs, the third represents the life of the beggars in proverbs, Jacques Lagniet, Paris, 1663.

INSIDE HISTORY 37


COURT OF MIRACLES

with only injuries to show for their

troubles. It was a godless place, with no

faith or law, although someone had

apparently stolen a religious statue from

a nearby church at some time in the

past, which sat in a niche at the end of

the court. Monks occasionally traversed

the court, but it was usually for a wellorchestrated

performance of a new

‘miracle’ which resulted in a windfall for

both church and beggar.

Sauval’s descriptions painted a detailed

picture of the organised world of this

criminal element. The beggars or

argotiers (named because they used

their own slang, or argot) paid homage to

their own king, the Grand Coësre, who

wore a crown of plasters and a Harlequin

cloak of every colour. These were skilled

beggars; ulcers, wounds and vicious

looking sores were faked using a

concoction of milk, blood and flour, and

experienced argotiers kept a store of

masks, plasters, bandages and rags of

one thousand colours on hand for rapid

changes in appearance.

The argotiers were distinguished by the

type of beggary they practised:

Orphelins - young boys who assumed

the role of abandoned children and

slipped into houses for the purpose of

carrying off whatever fell into their

hands.

Marcandiers - pretended to be

merchants ruined by the wars and asked

for alms.

Rifodes - begged by means of forged

certificates.

Malingreux - counterfeited maladies,

simulating the most disgusting afflictions.

Capons - begged in the streets and the

cabarets.

Piètres - fraudulent cripples, walking

with the aid of crutches.

Polissons - a variety of capons, and

effected their purposes through

intimidation.

Francs-mitous - acted as if they were

dying of hunger, they fell fainting with

weakness in the middle of the streets.

Callots - pretended to be recently cured

of the scurf (scrofula).

Hubains - exhibited a certificate setting

forth that, having been bitten by a mad

dog, they had been cured by the

intercession of Saint-Hubert.

Saboleux - false epileptics who

simulated convulsions by means of

soap placed between their lips which

made a froth.

Caurtaux de boutange - beggars in

winter, shivered with cold under their

rags.

Drilles, or narquois - begged in

military uniform and said they had

received wounds in battle.

Sauval recounts the story of one

swollen-bellied malingreux

supposedly overcome with dropsy,

whose sorry plight earned him a hat

filled with coins from passers-by. A

kindly surgeon took him into his shop

only to find the chap had something

of a blockage in his - ahem - entrance,

and when it was removed the ‘wind

blew out in such great quantity that

the whole shop was filled with a foul

odour which infected children who

had followed the evil one’.

The other half of the Court of Miracles

were the wicked thieves. The pursecutters,

or coupeurs de bourse, were

expected to produce two

‘masterpieces’ in the presence of

master thieves before they were

allowed to join a company. Firstly,

they would be beaten until they could

cut a purse attached to a rope with

bells without making a sound.

Secondly, they were taken to a

crowded public place such as the

Cimetière des Innocents, where a

target such as a woman kneeling

before a statue of the Virgin Mary with

her purse hanging loosely by her side

would be identified. In full view, the

want-to-be thief would brazenly steal

the purse. When the crowd came to

the target’s rescue, the other purse

cutters would rapidly surround them

and empty all waiting purses and

pockets.

Filthy thieves and vagabonds in dark

infested corners did not exactly

match the vision of Paris enjoyed by

the Sun King, named after his

ravishing performance in the ballet of

1653. The Paris of Louis XIV was the

fashion and architectural capital of

Europe, not the seedy underbelly

epitomised by the Cour des Miracles.

He detested the stench and noise of

"You are all

outlaws, and I can

kill you; but I don't

want to shed your

blood".

the capital, and an undisciplined

population was more likely to rebel. In

1656, archers and commissioners

forced their way inside the crooked

cul-de-sac and arrested a large

number of its inhabitants who were

subsequently imprisoned,

hospitalised or released. A harsh

1662 edict issued by the parlement

of Paris ordered ‘all sword-bearing

vagabonds, all non-native beggars’ to

return to the place of their birth, or

face ‘whipping and fleur-de-lis against

the able-bodied, hardships against

the crippled, and, against women,

whipping and being publicly shaved’.

But the problem remained.

Determined to purge the streets of

Paris of bare-faced thieves and

unsightly beggars, the king created

the post of Lieutenant General of

Police in 1667 and in the position

installed an ambitious counsellor by

the name of Gabriel Nicolas de la

Reynie. One of Reynie’s first tasks was

a clean sweep of the ‘barbarians’ in

the Court of Miracles. Putting himself

at the head of a regiment of Swiss

Guards, 150 foot soldiers and one

squadron of constabulary, the walls

surrounding the court were breached

and the combined forces entered.

Despite utilising their best weapons -

boos, insults, wild cries, dreadful

obscenities, stones, mud, rubbish,

rubble, spit, iron rods, knives, daggers,

old rapiers, blunderbusses, crutches

and guns (according to an 1847

history of the Parisian police) - the

rampaging mob were quickly overrun.

According to Reynie’s own account of

the day, he preferred to use wit rather

than force, and told the besieged

beggars: ‘You are all outlaws, and I

can kill you; but I don't want to

shed your blood. I did make three

breaches in your wall of wood and

mire: I give you the right to go out, to

escape, to hang yourself a little

38 INSIDE HISTORY


Victor Hugo would use a

highly sensationalised

version of the court as

the setting for his wellknown

novel The

Hunchback of Notre

Dame.

Portrait of Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie (1625-1709) Lieutenant

General of Police of Paris during the reign of Louis XIV.

further. Only the last twelve of you, the twelve stragglers

whom I shall surprise in the square, will be immediately

hanged’. There were no records of any hangings so luckily

for the miserable inhabitants it appeared to have been a

relatively peaceful eviction. Unfortunately, their misshapen,

haphazard and ‘disgusting infirmary’ was burned to the

ground.

Whilst there is no doubt the Court of Miracles existed, as

evidenced by its inclusion on 17th-century maps,

historians now doubt whether it was in fact a highly

organised society with its own distinct language. French

historian Roger Chartier believes the only real evidence we

have for the existence of the argotiers is from Henri

Sauval’s account, which has been taken literally as a

reflection of social reality. While Sauval may in fact have

visited this particular slum area and could describe its

dilapidated appearance, his account of monarchy and

language was taken almost word for word from a

publication 30 years earlier, by Ollivier Chereau. And

Chereau’s work had its ancestry in the 1510 Liber

Vagatorum which listed 28 categories of

beggars in a similar way to a taxonomy of the animal or

vegetable kingdom and wrote of their secret language. A

1585 work by Ambroise Paré referred to false beggars as

le monstreux. Attitudes to the poor had changed greatly

since the middle ages, and not to their benefit. In a

17th-century context, we can see that defamation of the

argotiers and the Court of Miracles was an attempt to

place order onto an exotic world, but keeping it completely

outside the margins of polite society.

By the 1700s a market area had been established over the

ruins of the Cour des Miracles. Victor Hugo would use a

highly sensationalised version of the court as the setting

for his well known novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame

but any surviving traces disappeared completely under

Baron Hausseman’s reconstruction of Paris in the 19th

century. Now all that remains are the narrow streets and a

sign on the wall to remind tourists that where they stand

was once a miraculous place. IH

INSIDE HISTORY 39


STUMPP

THE WEREWOLF OF BEDBURG

PETER

HANNAH PRINGLE



PETER STUMPP

The combination of a politically charged

society, folkloric tales and monstrous

crimes of a probable serial killer

fostered an environment for the

peculiar case of Peter Stumpp - the

Werewolf of Bedburg.

In the German town of Bedburg, a

series of cattle mutilations and monstrous

killings took place between the years of

1564 and 1589. The investigation went

beyond suspected wolf attacks to

circulating lycanthropy accusations in the

1580s. Rumours of a wolf-like creature

initially stemmed from an attack of a local

girl who called on divine intervention and

was saved by a cattle stampede. It was in

this stampede, men from the village

encountered a wolf and cut off its left

forepaw. This tale provides the basis for

the peculiar trial of Peter Stumpp that

took place in 1589.

Peter Stumpp had a variety of alias’ such

as Peter Stube, Peter Stumpf, Abalm

Griswold, Abil Groswold and Ubel

Griswold. Born in Cperadt, near the town

of Bedburg, he was a wealthy farmer and

a father to two children, assumed to have

been widowed by his wife at some point in

the 1580s. His age is uncertain due to the

lack of records surviving the Thirty Years

War, but he is estimated to have been

born between 1545-1550. After years of

the tale surviving only in folklore, The Most

Damnable Life and Death of Stubbe

Peeter was rediscovered by occultist

Montague Summers in 1920, detailing the

heinous crimes and execution of Peter

Stumpp. The pamphlet describes him

as:

“a most wicked Sorcerer who…

transfourmed into the likness of

a greedy deuouring Woolf.

Strong and mighty, with eyes

great and large, which in the

night sparkeled like vnto

brandes of fire, a mouth great

and wide, with most sharpe and

cruell teeth, A huge body, and

mightye pawes.”

The English translation of the 16-page

German pamphlet differed slightly

from the one circulating in the

Netherlands, which discussed the link

between the wolf who had its forepaw

removed by villagers, and Stumpp’s

impairment. When taking into

consideration the literature produced

on Peter Stumpp, we can begin to see

how rumours of lycanthropy and

diabolical pacts began to circulate.

Running parallel to witchcraft trials in

the early modern period, the pamphlet

was referenced by Edward Fairfax in

Daemonologia: A Discourse on

Witchcraft during the persecution of

his daughters for witchcraft in 1621.

For a village such as Bedburg, already

experiencing great religious and

political instability due to the Cologne

War 1583-88, the evolution of these

violent attacks encompassing cattle,

children and even foetus’ caused an

uproar. The unpredictable and vicious

nature of these crimes encouraged

villagers to establish a hunting party in

1589 to track down this suspected

werewolf who had been terrorising

the town.

The villagers eventually cornered a

creature in the wood, witnessing a

wolf without its left forepaw. They

were convinced this was the same

wolf from the earlier attack on the

local

girl in the field, whose paw they had

cut off. When this wolf disappeared,

Peter Stumpp emerged missing his

left hand. This was considered all the

evidence needed to prosecute the

tormentor of Bedburg. They were

convinced that he was the werewolf

responsible for these monstrous

crimes and apprehended him.

Similar to the earlier French werewolf

trials of Pierre Burgot, Michel Verdun

and Jacques Roulet, Peter Stumpp was

accused of committing appalling

crimes such as child murder, rape,

incest and cannibalism in the form of

a werewolf over “fiue and twenty

42 INSIDE HISTORY


yeerers”. As a sociable character, he was said to have lured

people into traps, which saw him accused of mutilating

many men, women, and children. Two of these women

were pregnant as he proceeded to tear “the children out of

their wombes, in most bloody and sauedge sorte, and after

eate their hartes panting hotte and rawe, which he

accounted dainty morsels & best agreeing to his appetite.”

Faced with being stretched on the excruciating rack,

Stumpp confessed to practising lycanthropy, sorcery, and

necromancy since the age of 12. He indulged the

magistrates by detailing how the devil had appeared to

him and gifted him a girdle a few years later. The belt

possessed magical properties, which enabled him to

transform into the Werewolf of Bedburg. He admitted to

using this girdle to commit many atrocities in the form of a

wolf, including at least 16 murders, the rape of young

women and acts of incest concerning his sister and

daughter whom he “begat a childe”. The girdle mentioned

was never recovered and Stumpp confessed to discarding

the girdle upon apprehension and returning it to the

devil.

Stumpp also shockingly confessed to the murder of his

own son, who he lured into the forest under false

pretences. He claimed to have used the girdle to transform

into a wolf, proceeding to “cruelly slewe him…[and] eat the

brains out of his head…to staunch his geedye apetite”. This

was significant, as the reason Stumpp was not suspected

of the crimes from the beginning was the untimely murder

of his son, which villagers thought him incapable of

committing following the death of his wife.

As with many crimes of this nature, torture found its place

in the trial of Peter Stumpp not only with the extraction of

a confession, but with his execution. He was executed

alongside his mistress, Katherine Trompin, and daughter,

Sybil, on 31 October 1589. Both were executed through

the act of flaying and strangling, as Katherine was believed

to have been a she-wolf sent by the devil, and Sybil for

merely harbouring Stumpp’s existence. The ecclesiastical

principality continued to make a statement with this trial

and proceeded to execute Stumpp by strapping him to the

breaking wheel. As flesh was torn from his body, his arms

and legs were broken via the hard side of an axe. The

mutilation did not stop there as he was later beheaded

and his body was burned, with his head being mounted

upon a spear for all to see. This warning acted as a

deterrent for people using maleficia, sorcery and

conspiring with the devil, in a highly anxious society.

Woodcut of a werewolf by Lucas Cranach the

Elder, Germany c.1512. Wikimedia Commons

The gruesome trial of Peter Stumpp was retold in

countries across Europe including England, the

Netherlands and France. Although there is a wealth of

material produced on Stumpp, we still do not have a

definitive answer as to who he really was. His life has been

indulged by popular culture, blurring the line between fact

and myth. What we do know is that he lived in a religiously

divided electorate where anxieties were high, and violence

was commonplace. The combination of a politically

charged society, folkloric tales and monstrous crimes of a

probable serial killer fostered an environment for the

peculiar case of Peter Stumpp - the Werewolf of Bedburg. IH

INSIDE HISTORY 43


The Trojan War was the greatest catastrophe of the ancient

world. We are told that it devastated Europe and Asia and

plunged the known world into a Dark Age that lasted 500 years.

This is the ‘Story of Troy’. The truth has never been established

but after Thirty years of painstaking investigative research,

historian Bernard Jones Believes that He has finally resolved

this 3,000-year-old mystery. The amazing conclusion is that the

Trojan War actually happened and Homer’s Iliad is a factual

account.

THE REAL

TROJAN

WAR?

44 INSIDE HISTORY


HOUDINI

VS

HodgsonINSIDE HISTORY 45


Jones’ research showed that the Trojan War could not

have taken place in the Aegean area, or even in the

Mediterranean world. The evidence turns our accepted

geography on its head, but leads us on a fascinating journey

of discovery back to the real world in which the Trojans lived.

This world was in NW Europe. Only in this corrected

environment can Homer’s Iliad be understood – and as a

result, it has been shown to be a genuine historical record.

Jones is not alone in believing that there appears to be many

flaws in Homer’s Iliad. This is only true, however, when

looked at from a ‘Mediterranean’ viewpoint. In fact, it was

these very ‘flaws’ that made him start right at the beginning

and investigate everything from scratch and in minute detail.

He says, ‘Homer gives meticulous information on an

infinite number of matters relating to the natural

world in which he lived. Many people may not even

notice this information because it is embodied in the

text in very subtle ways and is easily missed. From the

outset, it is undoubtedly the battle scenes that

impress themselves on the mind. The enormity of the

war, the vast numbers of ships and men and chariots

and horses, the violence of battle, the never-ending

struggle for glory, the brutality, death, blood and gore.

It is overwhelming. Under such a bombardment it is

impossible to take in the many microscopic and

beautiful details of the natural world that present

themselves fleetingly through the carnage of the

battlefield. The serious investigator is forced to read

Homer many times over in order to discover these

details, because they are minute gems of evidence’.

Seas and Tides

The nature of the seas and tides, as described by Homer in

the Iliad, does not fit a Mediterranean picture. He uses the

terms ‘grey’ sea, ‘wine-dark’ sea, and the ‘roaring’ sea. He tells

us of the black rollers, the grey and thundering surf, and the

hissing waves. He describes the storm-tossed sea when

billows tumble over the bulwark of a ship. He also tells us that

the much-travelled seagoing ships of the Achaeans were fast

‘salt- watercraft’, and when they reached land the sailors cast

anchors and made the hawsers fast. The picture that

emerges from the Iliad is unambiguous. It is a picture of a sea

that is continually in tumult, and the predominant colour is

grey. These are accurate descriptions for the Atlantic but not

for the Mediterranean.

Climate and Weather

Homer gives us an account of the weather in such detail that

any reader could be forgiven for thinking that the Trojan War

must have taken place in the North Sea. He tells us of dark

clouds, blustering winds, the thunder-laden sky, heavy rain

and winter torrents. There is fog and chilling hail; and mist

that is so thick that ‘a man can see no further than he can

heave a rock’. He also describes the snow that falls without

ceasing till it has covered the high hilltops, the clover

meadows and farmers fields; till even the shores and inlets of

the grey sea are under snow and ‘only the breakers fend it off

as they come rolling in’. Again, these descriptions appear to

indicate some northern land.

46 INSIDE HISTORY


14


that the Troy of King Priam was the original establishment

on the hill, but the lowest layer produced only stone,

primitive pottery and bone. He shifted his attention to a

burnt third layer where he found treasures of gold, silver

and copper or bronze. This treasure has since been dated

to 2,200 BCE. In 1882, Schliemann shifted his identification

to another layer, and yet again to another in 1890. He died

that year but Professor Dorpfield continued excavating

and discovered fortification walls and houses. This layer

was called Troy VI and Dorpfield pronounced it as the

settlement of Homer’s and Priam’s Troy.

Landscape and Environment

In the Iliad we are given valuable information about the

homelands of the various contingents in the Trojan and

Achaean armies. Homer uses the phrase ‘bountiful earth’

when referring to them, and his descriptions indicate a

veritable Garden of Eden. These countries are rich in grazing

lands, plough lands, tilled fields, farms, farmyards, threshing

floors, reaping, fishing, hunting and horse breeding. The

homelands of the Achaeans and of the Trojans and their

allies were ‘rich in flocks and cattle’, with unnumbered

sheep, bulls, horses and pigs. These lands produced wheat,

corn, barley, rye, honey, wine and bread. The land is so rich

and fruitful that it is impossible for it to be the modern

Greece of today, where thin rocky soils are typical of the

area and less than 25% of the land could ever be cultivated.

The Archaeological Troy

On the evidence of inscriptions discovered in the area, a

ridge known to the Turks as Hissarlik was identified nearly

200 years ago as the site of Hellenistic and Roman Ilion. The

mound of Hissarlik had a maximum length of 200 metres

and was less than 150 metres wide. It rose just over 30

metres above the level of the plain. In 1865 Heinrich

Schliemann decided to excavate the mound. Eventually, he

distinguished seven and then nine main layers that

corresponded to the ruins of towns. He was of the opinion

After Dorpfield’s excavations, Blegen led an Archaeological

Expedition from the University of Cincinnati in an

investigation of the site. This showed that there were no

contemporary written records to throw light on the history,

religion, social organisation, economic life or other aspects

of Trojan culture. Blegen, however, later stated that it could

no longer be doubted that there was an actual historical

Trojan War. This drew fierce criticism from Finley who said

there was nothing in the archaeology of Troy that gave the

slightest warrant for such an assertion. Blegen’s team had

found nothing that pointed to an Achaean coalition, an

overlord king, Trojan allies or the destroyers of Troy.

Mainland Greek archaeology and the Mycenaean tablets

were equally devoid of information. As stated by Donald

Easton, it has never been proved that Hissarlik is the site of

Homer’s Troy. Although archaeological work continues, we

have not really moved forward from Donald Easton’s

position. We will find, however, that all the evidence from

Jones’ research makes the archaeological argument void.

Homer’s Astronomical

Evidence

It may come as a surprise to many people but Homer

identifies the location of Troy using astronomical means.

He pays just the same amount of attention to the planets,

the stars, and the constellations, as he does to the battle

scenes and the struggle for victory in arms. These are the

beautiful details of the natural world and Homer is

faultless at describing them all. He is a master too in his

story-telling and, just like a magician’s performance, it is so

easy to be mesmerised and miss things that are right in

front of your eyes. Recognising the importance of Homer’s

astronomical information in the narrative of the Iliad

cannot be underestimated. The poet is actually informing

us of the location of Troy; and it is to the north of the Line

of Latitude 45 degrees. This excludes all of Greece and

Turkey, and the whole of the Mediterranean and Aegean

areas.

48 INSIDE HISTORY


The Burning of Troy, oil painting by Johann Georg Trautmann

Where did the Greeks

come from?

This may seem to be a very simple question but the answer

is no-one really knows! At the time of Herodotus the Greeks

were in the Mediterranean and Aegean and their history, as

we know it today, began. Surprisingly though, the Greeks

had no legends about their entry into the land in which they

lived. The Greek language, however, is deemed to be part of

the Indo-European family of languages that had its origin in

the north. Many of the cultural themes from Homer are

characteristic of Celtic society, a warrior aristocracy, and this

in itself points us to the north once more. Finding the

original home of the Celts though is fraught with difficulty,

but we do know that they spoke Greek, as did the ancient

Britons and Gauls.

Homer’s Metals

In the Iliad we are told about the various metals that were

being used at the time of the Trojan War. These included

gold, silver, iron, tin and bronze (an alloy of copper and tin).

Many of the combatants in the war wore bronze armour and

Homer describes the battles that ensued in order to strip

the armour from the fallen heroes. He also tells us about the

exquisite works of craftsmen in all of these metals, as well as

the quoits of iron that were the most highly prized of all. In

reality, these metals were not available together in the

Aegean world so where did they come from? It is a

conundrum that has confounded researchers up to the

present day. Once more, the answer is that they came from

the north, and Jones reveals that they were all available

together in one country. That country was where the Trojan

War took place!

Extensive Research

The subject matter given here is just a brief introduction to

the extensive research done by Jones over the decades and

covered in his book, The Discovery of Troy and its Lost

History. Many more elements added to the picture about

the Trojan War and, as a result, narrowed the focus for

discovering its location. As it transpired, this brought with it a

detailed geography that was crucial to everything that

followed. Jones reveals who the Achaeans, the Danaans, and

the Argives really were; and then he goes on to identify the

Trojans themselves. ‘The Trojans never disappeared from

Asia’, he says, ‘because they were never there’. Homer’s

geography enabled the Trojan battleground and Troy’s main

rivers to be identified, along with the Achaean camp and the

refuge for the fleet. These discoveries led in turn to the

identification of the Land of Troy and the Bronze Age city of

King Priam itself, a city that was more than 25 square

kilometres in size.

Archaeology and history

Unbelievably, the discoveries do not end here because the

remains of the Achaean Wall are still to be seen on the plain

where the Bronze Age Trojan War took place. Homer

describes in detail the wall and ditch that was constructed to

protect the ships. He tells us that it was a massive wall with

battlements, towers, and gates; and the ditch was so wide

that even horses could not jump it. The whole edifice was so

long that it took 700 sentries to guard it. The massive wall

that still exists matches Homer’s descriptions in every respect

– as does the archaeological report that was carried out on it

many years ago.

Finally, there is the historical aspect to consider; a nation’s

history that asserts their descendancy from Troy and

chronicles all their kings down to modern times. A history

often passed over by modern historians and sometimes

derided by others. The author’s discoveries confirm the

veracity of these histories.

European histories also tell the whole story of the migrations

that took place following the Trojan War and the nations that

arose out of the ashes of Troy. The records of these nations

independently verify the author’s findings, and they overturn

the theory of a ‘Dark Age’. The evidence shows that the

historical account is continuous down to modern times.

Consequently, the ‘Story of Troy’ can now be removed from

the realm of myth and be placed firmly into the historical

arena.

The Discovery of Troy and

its Lost History by Bernard

Jones is out now and

available from our book

shop

INSIDE HISTORY 49


INTERview

DR JOHN WOolf

& the wonders of the victorian

freak show

Inside History editor, Nick Kevern meets Dr John Woolf

to discuss the age of the Victorian Freak show and the

histories of those who called it home.

Your new book focuses on the age of

the Victorian Freak Shows and those

who participated in them. What

prompted you to write this book in

the first place?

Yeah. It's kind of strange one, isn't it? You

know it's been like a freakish obsession of

mine for about 20 years. When I was nine

years old, I watched David Lynch's film

The Elephant Man. It's brilliant. Such a

good film. But as a nine year old, its also

found it quite scary. And I remember

vividly at the time feeling this sense of

fear as the Elephant Man emerges from

the shadows of Victorian London. And yet

at the same time feeling a kind of real

compassion for Joseph Merrick, the Man

behind the Mask. And that moment

almost planted the seeds of a fascination

with difference and otherness and

freakishness, which ultimately sprouted in

me as an undergraduate. When I started

looking at the history of psychiatry, then

when I did my doctorate, I turned that into

looking at physical difference in The

Victorian Freak Show, and then ultimately

the book as well.

We start seeing Joseph Merrick as

more human as the film goes on. Was

that something which really

mattered to you when you're going

away writing about a book about Side

Show freaks?

Absolutely. That was kind of the core of

my project was trying to humanise those

who've been deemed other and different

in the Victorian period. And actually since

then have been often presented in quite

sensational ways. And David Lynch's film

was quite a sensitive portrayal of Joseph

50 INSIDE HISTORY


Merrick. But that film itself is interesting because David Lynch,

the arch postmodernist filmmaker, actually wrote the film

based on one narrative at the time, a rather sentimental

narrative constructed by Joseph Merrick's surgeon, Frederick

Treves, and Treves wrote this memoir in the 20th century,

early 20th century, where he presented Joseph Merrick's life in

the Freak Show as one of abject horror and debasement and

cruelty and exploitation, and his sort of salvation in the

London hospital where he was presented in this refuge, and

he could spend his remaining days in quiet leisure. So it was

quite a sentimental Victorian portrait of Joseph Merrick's

story. But when Frederick Treves wrote and published his

memoir, there was actually a counter-narrative from one of

the showmen who had exhibited Joseph Merrick at the

London Hospital. And he wrote actually attacking Treves,

saying, the way you've presented our showman is basically

exploiting Joseph was unfair. He was well treated in The Freak

Show, and you, Mr. Treves, were the one that really exploited

him. He became a medical freak in your institution. You put

him on display to your medical friends. You denied him a life

of independence and agency. So Joseph Merrick's life is

actually constructed with different narratives. And David

Lynch's film uses one narrative, the surgeon's narrative. But

actually, it's much more complex. That was kind of one of the

things that fascinated me about the story of Joseph Martin.

Generally, how do you read his experiences? Because David

Lynch would have us believe one thing, whereas actually, the

reality was a bit more common.

Merrick's real showman owner was a man called Tom

Norman. He always comes across as quite a respectable

man, an entrepreneur of type. So he wouldn't obviously

treat someone like that because that's his livelihood

isn't it?

Just like today's

entertainment

industry, sometimes

talent is exploited.

Could we, therefore, make an argument that for

people who were physically deformed or even

mentally deformed at that time, that life in the

sideshows was actually better for them?

Yeah. That's kind of the central difficult question in all of this.

Was the freak show exploitative or did it empower people?

Did it present a choice for people who are disabled? Or was

it a space of coercion? And the truth is there's no simple

answer. Just like today's entertainment industry, sometimes

talent is exploited. Sometimes it isn't the same for the world

of the Freak Show. Now, those who defend the freak show

as a form of entertainment would claim exactly that their

alternatives were destitution in the workhouse or committed

to a mental asylum or a life on the margins of society,

earning very little. And the freak show gave them agency. It

gave them independence. It gave them a means to earn

their own income. And in the 19th century often created

Yeah, totally. And Frederick Treves publishes his memoir

where it has a Story of the Elephant Man. And Tom Norman

responds in a series of articles claiming exactly what he was

like, he never treated Joseph Merrick like that. It would have

been terrible for business if he did treat him like that. And

actually, he was very grateful to him because prior to his time

in The Freak Show, Joseph Merrick was incarcerated in the

workhouse, which, as we all know, was a place of real sort of

horror and dependency. And Joseph Merrick himself was a

working-class man from Leicester and living in a workhouse

being dependent was a real sort of hit to one sense of

masculinity. And so in Joseph Merrick's own autobiography,

again, another narrative of his story, which is often forgotten,

he says, I decided to leave the workhouse and seek

employment in The Freak Show, where I was well treated. And

Tom Norman reminds us of this fact and stresses that Joseph

Merrick was well treated in The Freak Show on the whole. And

when we look at the life of Tom Norman, there's nothing to

suspect that he would have mistreated Joseph. No evidence of

that other than what the surgeon Frederick Treves claimed

going back to the workhouse because that was always the

last place you never wanted to go to.

SIR FREDERICK TREVES

INSIDE HISTORY 51


international celebrities. We think of the free choice a sort of

dark, marginal affair. In the 19th century, it was respectable

theatrical, and it created the celebrities of their generation.

So was that preferable to a world of the workhouse. And the

typical historians' answer is sometimes. It was in certain

cases, sometimes it wasn't. But that's one of the reasons why

this is so fascinating in the history of disability as well

because it provokes all of these questions. And of course,

some of them didn't actually go into the official freak show

carnival kind of atmosphere.

Some were actually self-employed where they allowed

people to come into their homes. In particular, I'm

thinking of Daniel Lambert. Could you tell us more

about him?

He's an amazing character. He put himself on display when

he was in his 30s and about 56 stone. So big fat man billed

as a big fat man. One of the world's wonders. He was from

Leicester originally, and he comes down to London, puts

himself on display in Piccadilly, Number 53 Piccadilly in 1806.

And he puts out advertisements in the Times, and there's a

couple of bill posters. And this wasn't the freak show of

performance or singing or dancing. This was Daniel Lambert

sitting receiving guests. They pay a shilling. They go and visit

him at his apartment, and it was built as an apartment. They

converse with him and by all accounts, he was a very good

conversationalist. He was a man who was really attuned with

country, sport, and country pursuits. And they'd have a

conversation. It wasn't really a formal freak show. It was an

early form of display that many people with bodies deemed

different would utilise. And the clients who would attend or

the audience were sort of more refined variety because it

was priced at about a shilling.

Daniel would have probably done this all himself. There was

no manager or anything like that attached. It's quite

interesting because one of the difficult things about this

subject is extracting the truth from fiction and the sources.

And the sources would have us believe most of these

sources come from 19th-century eccentric biographies,

which are sort of compendium of biographies on eccentric

characters. And they say that Daniel Lambert presented

himself. He was too noble a man to be hired by a showman

at the time, having quite a nasty reputation. So, yes, we

assume that he presented himself without any help, that he

was his own showman. Yet there are certain things and I

raise this in my book, which makes us question the veracity

of that statement, and it seems almost impossible. He went

on a tour around the UK. He was very attuned to how to

present himself, and he was a great businessman as well.

But there are questions. He probably did have some help,

yet the sources aren't forthcoming because they wanted to

present Lambert as a sort of Noble gentleman who was

incidentally fat. So probably he was his own showman, but

he might have had assistance as well. I find that quite

interesting because it's almost as if the marketing plan for

him is there is no showman associated.

There someone whom you talk about in the book, who

I find fascinating as well. Jeffrey Hudson, who has

nothing to do with the freak show. He's a precursor to

it in some respects, but he's with royalty.

Hudson's life is incredible really. In 1626 he was served,

believe it or not, in a pie, a cold baked pie which was brought

into this banqueting room to be served to Queen Henrietta

Maria, the 15-year-old wife to King Charles I. And Jeffrey is

sort of encased in this pie. He breaks through this pie. He

marches up the banqueting table to the astonishment of the

audience, waving flags. And he returns to the Queen and

takes this low bow. And from that moment, Jeffrey Hudson

and Queen Henrietta Maria are inseparable. He goes to live

with her in her Royal residences. He's given basic schooling,

learns how to hunt. He performs in plays and theatricals, and

at age 21, was actually given a salary of I think it's about £50

per annum. Now, why I included Jeffrey Hudson in the story

was exactly as you say. He was not a freak show, but he was

a forerunner. He was kept by the English Royals for

amusement and presented to Royal guests as

entertainment. But again, like we were talking about with

Joseph Merrick, there are complex dynamics going on here

because the options for a person of short stature. I should

say that Jeffrey Hudson was a person of short stature, 18

inches tall, age seven years old, when he was presented to

the Queen. The opportunities in life were very limited, but he

was brought into the centre, the Royal sanctum. He went on

to lead this extraordinary life. He kills a man in a duel. He

fights for the Royals during the English Civil War, he's

banished from courts, get captured by Pirates, enslaved. You

name it. Jeffrey Hudson lived there. So his life is really

fascinating in and of itself because of something interesting

about the 17th century and 17th-century culture and

society. But also in my kind of broader narrative, it's an

important forerunner to the Victorian Freak Show. And then

you can also, of course, link Jeffrey to the much later Tom

Thumb.

Jeffery hudson

52 INSIDE HISTORY


DANIEL LAMBERT (WELLCOME COLLECTION)

INSIDE HISTORY 53


Yes, absolutely. And how that's varied over time,

because once PT Barnum gets General Tom Thumb, he

turns into something completely different, doesn't he?

Yeah. Absolutely. And again, with General Tom Thumb whose

real name was Charles Stratton, another person of short

stature and the turning point in his international fortunes. He

had been a massive hit in America in the early 1840s. He

comes to the UK in 1844. And his change in fortunes in

London and the UK was when he met Queen Victoria three

times, and she was wowed with him. And suddenly Barnum

presented Tom Thumb, his quote, amusing dwarf. As

someone with Royal connections, he was the pet of the

palace, the Queen's dwarf. And this really propelled Tom

Thumb into popular consciousness and actually an

international celebrity. And so, yes, the kind of comparisons

with Jeffrey Hudson. You've got personal short stature used

for entertainment connected to royalty, which improved their

status. Yet Tom Thumb was operating in the world of the

Victorian Freak Show, this popular form of entertainment. And

he and Barnum made a hell of a lot of money as a result. I

mean, Barnum himself is an interesting character in this story,

just in case anyone's watched The Greatest Showman and

think that Hugh Jackman looks like P.T Barnum is the

complete opposite. I mean, let's be honest, I don't think P.T

Barnum is going to turn many heads.

No, compared to Hugh Jackman, but the film itself is

interesting, isn't it? Because it sets up a different

narrative of Barnum, one of which probably Barnum

would be quite proud of.

Yeah, I love it. But at the same time, it's largely not true. We

have to view it as a film.

When did P.T Barnum become obsessed with doing this

kind of things with the American Museum and stuff like

that?

American public. Now we don't hear any of that in The

Greatest Showman. We know that Barnum was a slave

owner who did lug this old woman around who did once

whip a slave 50 times when he suspected him of stealing.

Barnum was a man of his times, and he's got blotches on

his moral record. And in a way, I thought it was a shame

that the film didn't offer a bit more nuance to Barnum's

character. But it was after Joyce Heath that he purchases

the American Museum in 1842. He comes across Charles

Stratton, four years old, 23 inches tall, and Barnum

transforms him for the stage into General Tom Thumb,

who becomes one of the world's first international

celebrities. So that's kind of the moment that Barnum

really sort of explodes onto the scene.

Could we make the argument that with The Greatest

Showman, Hugh Jackman portrays Barnum as kind

of like an everyman, whereas in reality, he was

actually exploitative?

You could definitely make the argument. It's so hard,

because there's always a danger in applying 21st century

standards to 19th-century men. And I stress Barnum was a

man of his time, and he changed over time as an

individual. But he was a slave owner. He was at the time

accused of exploitation. He put Charles Stratton, General

Tom Thomb on stage when he was four years old. There

were allegations of animal cruelty, child cruelty. As I said,

he was a slave owner. So you could definitely make the

claim that this was a man who exploited performers. But

he also made people into stars and celebrities. General

Tom Thumb earned a good salary, and Barnum had a lot

of goodness in his heart as well. So he's a complex man of

his time. But you could definitely argue that he was

exploitative. But I wouldn't go too much to the extreme,

either, because he had some noble qualities as well,

because Tom from Charles Stratton is actually buried near

PC Barnum as well. There's not much

Yes, he was a sort of traveling showman, a man in between

jobs in the 1830s. And it was really in 1841 when he

purchases the American Museum that he sort of really

embarks on a career in the entertainment industry. And that's

when he starts kind of collecting from one of the better word

freak performers to put on display. Now, what the film does is

present Barnum as this great hero. And don't get me wrong.

It's got wonderful music. I love the film, good songs, but the

history is crap. It was really bad. And again, I'm not one of

these historians that picks holes through these things

because it's a different medium, is trying to do something, but

it missed a massive opportunity, and it totally whitewashed

the past. And the truth is PT. Barnum first found fame on the

back of a senile, paralyzed elderly slave named Joyce Heath,

who Barnum lugged across the northeast of America,

displaying her as a 161-year-old nurse of George Washington.

Now she was, of course, not 161-years-old. She was more

likely 80. And when she died on the job, Barnum organised a

public dissection of her body and made a lot of money. And

this kind of was his first sort of exposure to popular culture.

That moment really propelled him into the minds of the

P.T Barnum

54 INSIDE HISTORY


distance that separates them. Now that kind of tells us a lot

about their relationship. Absolutely. He wanted to be near

him. They're buried in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and they had a

very close relationship. When Barnum became bankrupt in

1856, it was Tom Thumb who writes to Barnum and says, you

know, my dear friend, I see you're in difficulty. Let me go on

stage and help you recover your fortunes, which is really kind

of a touching offer that Barnum did ultimately take up and

shows the closeness in their relationship. In my book, I look a

bit more closely at their dynamics, which in the early days was

quite sort of Barnum, was almost a sort of paternal figure to

Charles Stratton, who was very young when he was being

displayed in America and then Europe. So, yeah, he did have a

close relationship with Charles Stratton, as he did with a

number of freak performers he hired. Although it could be

strange with others. And the harrowing story of Joyce Heath

always sort of lingers in my mind because that's a hard one to

swallow. That really tarnish Barnum's image in my mind.

But there is another interesting thing with the slave

ownership because there was another pair who did go

off and do the same thing. Chang and Eng, the famous

Siamese twins, had wives and children and slaves. Does

their story tell us just exactly how successful these

freak shows actually were at the time?

Absolutely. Again, they have this really interesting life

discovered in Siam today's Thailand, in 1824, brought over to

the west for display as freaks of nature. The Siamese twin

brothers, as they were billed, connected by a ligament just

below their breastbone. They did performances and

acrobatics on stage and answered questions. And they had in

their early years they were under the control of their Western

protectors, as they were known, and they were kind of

mistreated. They were underpaid, they were overworked.

They were essentially kind of owned by these protectors. But

when they hit their 21st birthday, they decided that they were

going to leave these protectors and become their own freak

showmen and their own freak businessmen. And as a result,

they became very successful. They made a lot of money,

about $10,000 which they saved thanks to their freak show.

And they retired from the business to Wilkes County in North

Carolina, where they established plantations. They married

two local girls. They had over 20 children between them, and

they owned slaves. So the Siamese twins on stage were

fathers and farmers and slave owners off stage, which is a

kind of incredible reversal of fortune. You really can't make

this kind of stuff up. But for me, it was also interesting

because there's another danger in all of this where we

assume that a freak performer is a mere passive agent who's

exploited and ill-treated and actually changing. And a number

of the performers I look at in my book, fight back. They did

have power. They did have control over their own lives. And

they leave us with quite an uncomfortable legacy.

So what does the Freak Show actually tell us about the

Victorian Age?

This is the thing going back to what I said earlier, like we think

of The Freak Show as a marginal affair, but it was absolutely

central to Victorian society. It was the expression of popular

culture, men, women, and children, the middle classes,

working classes, royalty, Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln,

scientists, anthropologists. They all came to the Freak Show.

Everyone loved the Freak Show. And as a result of that, the

Freak Show opens up a world for us to further fathom the

nature of popular culture. The way that the Freak Show was

presented and advertised tells us something about broader

discourses at the time, about medicine, about sexuality,

about gender, about science. And also I looked a lot of

people's responses to The Freak Show. And again, this

illuminates a broader theme. So the Freak Show, by its very

nature, often presented itself as quite a topical form of

entertainment. It really opens up the world for the Victorian

age in very interesting ways.

So what brought about the end of the Freak Show?

Because one moment it's the biggest show in town,

and the next moment it's gone. Why did it end that

way?

The height of its popularity was the 1840s to about 1914,

and it kind of lingered on into the 1940s. But there were a

number of factors that were leading to its decline. One was

the rise of science and medicine, and that meant that

scientists were increasingly explaining away the anomalies

on stage. They suddenly started to understand some of the

conditions that these performers had. Once you do that, you

kill the wonder and the mystique. They also started claiming

freak bodies. So rather than freak performers being on

stage, a number were increasingly institutionalised, whether

in hospitals or mental asylums. And science was so-called

correcting the anomalous body. They are trying to separate

Siamese twins or conjoined twins, for example. So you have

the rise of science, you have the rise of other forms of

popular entertainment. The cinema in particular, really sort

of competed with the Freak Show and ultimately superseded

the Freak Shows. This expression of popular culture and

massively the First World War and that produced disabilities

on an industrial scale. So afterward, it no longer seemed that

appealing to go gorp at people deemed different on stage.

These were sort of some of the major factors which

ultimately led to the decline of the freak Shows. But it did

kind of linger on. It did linger on in 1940 and even beyond.

But it was a shell of its former self.

The Victorian Freak Shows sort of morphed into different

forms of culture and popular culture that are still with us.

And if you think about the central ingredients of

sensationalism, voyeurism and titillation and an obsession

with difference that is still with us, body worlds or gossip

magazines, TV documentaries, it's still there reality TV being

a prime example. So the Freak Show as an institution might

have died. But its legacy lives on. IH

The Wonders: Lifting the

Curtain on the Freak

Show, Circus and Victorian

Age by Dr John Woolf is

out now and available

from our book shop

INSIDE HISTORY 55


INSIDE

BOOKS

WHITE DEBT:

THE DEMERARA

UPRISING AND

BRITAIN'S LEGACY

OF SLAVERY

THOMAS HARDING

EDITOR'S PICK

White Debt is an evocative insight into the

role of British slavery in Guyana in the

nineteenth century.

Thomas Harding focuses on the vital case

of the Demerara Uprising in 1823, Guyana,

which has been largely underrepresented

in historiography. Told from the viewpoint

of four very different, but essential

protagonists in the Demerara Uprising,

Harding’s narrative demonstrates the

power of primary sources to induce a

distinctive historical outline.

We are firstly introduced to Jack

Gladstone, arguably the central character

and the leader of the Uprising at Success

Plantation in Demerara. Secondly, we are

introduced to John Smith, a London

missionary who arrives in Demerara,

providing religious freedom for over 6,000

of his congregation at Bethel Chapel as he

reveals that he ‘abhors slavery’. Thirdly we

are introduced to John Cheveley. After his

once affluent family loses their fortune in

Essex, he is unemployed and looking for a

fresh start, he arrives in Demerara and

Publisher: Orion Publishing Co

ISBN: 9781474621045

Number of pages: 320

Weight: 540g

Dimensions: 236 x 162 x 32 mm

works as a store clerk and unbeknown to

him is coerced to join the militia. Cheveley

later takes part in suppressing the

insurrection of Demerara, fighting against

Jack Gladstone. Lastly, John Gladstone is

the last and perhaps most integral part of

the narrative. He is a prominent politician

as well as economically benefiting greatly

from being a slaveholder, owning land and

‘owning’ people. Harding has successfully

tied all of these different lines of narrative

together to result in a moving and

consistent trajectory in White Debt.

Furthermore, at the end of each chapter,

Harding has included an account of parts

of his research method for this novel. This

proves insightful and complements each

chapter’s subject matter aptly. At the end

of chapter nine, Harding confesses his

struggle with the correct terminology to

use for the revolutionaries, abolitionists,

demonstrators or rebels that took part in

the Demerara Uprising. He conducts a

thought experiment, comparing the

following sentences: “British militia shot

two hundred rebels” and “British militia

shot two hundred abolitionists”. Harding

explains, as the reader simultaneously

realises, that we are much more

sympathetic to the second sentence.

Terminology is indescribably important

when writing, but it also allowed Harding

to reflect that “as a white man who grew

up in Britain, I am struck by the dramatic

difference in my responses”; there is no

such thing as objectivity when reading a

piece of history and it is essential that

this does not go unnoticed.

Harding invites the reader to understand

how, as a white member of British

society, people have personally

benefitted from British slavery in one way

or the other. How can an individual

engage in amending this atrocity that is

prevalent in current society? One way,

Harding notes, is through reparations.

Towards the end of the novel, Harding

recalls meeting Eric Phillips, the chairman

of the Guyana Reparations Commission.

The most common argument against

providing reparations would be ‘why

should I care about something that

happened hundreds of years ago?’. To

which, Eric Phillips concisely shuts down

in a poignant thought: “I can understand

that question, because they have their

own problems and struggles…but the

society they live in, the society that they

are benefitting from…has a historical

platform…it has created a global

hierarchy of race that impacts everything

we do, from the pandemic to debt relief.”

Affronted with our collective amnesia, we

are reminded that the legacy of British

slavery is still very much alive.

Camilla Bolton is an Assistant Editor at

Aspects of History.

56 INSIDE HISTORY


THE PATHFINDERS:

THE ELITE RAF FORCE THAT

TURNED THE TIDE OF WWII

WILL IREDALE

Will Iredale tells the incredible story of

the crack team of ordinary men and women,

from a range of nations, who revolutionised

the efficiency of the Allies' air campaign over

mainland Europe and helped to deliver the

decisive victory over Nazi Germany.

A secret force of 20,000 servicemen, often

teenagers or in their early twenties, the

Pathfinders was the corps d’elite of Britain’s air

bombing campaign that elevated Bomber

Command from an impotent force on the

cusp of disintegration in 1942 to one capable

of razing whole German cities to the ground in

a single night, striking with devastating

accuracy, inspiring fear and loathing in Hitler's

senior command.

At the very heart of the Pathfinders’ formation,

evolution and ongoing survival lay a battle of

alpha-male personalities, giant egos and

entrenched rivalries. This book reveals the

fascinating story of how the Pathfinder force

was created and how it became a pawn in a

bitter power struggle between senior

commanders which threatened to tear

Bomber Command apart.

With exclusive interviews with remaining

survivors, personal diaries, previously

classified records and never-before seen

photographs, The Pathfinders brings to life the

characters of the young airmen and women

who took to the skies in legendary British

aircraft such as the Lancaster and the

Mosquito, facing almost unimaginable levels of

violence from enemy fighter planes to strike at

the heart of the Nazi war machine.

The secret of this elite squadron’s success was

an unlikely combination of characters,

including a humble university chemistry

lecturer and fireworks boffin, a clairvoyant

Scottish scientist who invented the world’s first

bombing device that could see in the dark,

and an abrasive Australian cowboy considered

to be one of the most talented airmen of the

war.

This riveting book also tells the tales of the

exceptionally brave effort made by thousands

of ordinary young men thrust into

extraordinary circumstances as Pathfinders,

who didn’t know or really care about the

political machinations of their bosses. Their

fight was for survival and their job was clear: to

fly over enemy territory to locate and ‘mark’

targets in the dark so that the main force of

Bomber Command’s aircraft following behind

could bomb as accurately as possible.

We meet Ulric Cross, from Trinidad, a

Mosquito Navigator flying in the Night Light

Striking Force, who became the most

decorated West Indian of the Second World

War. Dubbed ‘The Black Hornet’, he flew

dozens of dangerous missions over enemy

territory, avoiding being killed and helping

prevent up to 200 bombers being shot down

in a daring mission over Berlin in 1943. We are

also introduced to one of the last Pathfinders

still alive today - Geordie Lancaster pilot Ernie

Holmes, who reveals the astonishing story of

how he was blown out of his Lancaster

bomber at 17,000 feet and spent a month on

the run before being betrayed to the Gestapo.

And Colin Bell, one of the last surviving Second

World War Mosquito pilots, and now aged

100, who flew fifty operations over Nazi

Germany and who reveals how he cheated

death at the hands of a German Luftwaffe jet

fighter almost 80 years ago.

Thanks almost exclusively to the Pathfinders,

the numbers of Bomber Command crews

reaching their targets rose from as low as 25

per cent in August 1942 to 95 per cent in

some operations in April 1945. This increasing

accuracy played a critical role in the precision

bombing ahead of the Allied D-Day invasion in

June 1944 and the advance across Europe.

The huge impact made by the Pathfinders

force, and its contribution towards the overall

war effort, is perhaps best summed up by a

newspaper article published July 1944 in which

the journalist wrote:

“The Pathfinders are the aces of Bomber

Command. Without them Bomber Command

could never be the devastating force it is

today. Without them the strategic long‐range

hammering of German cities could never have

taken place during the last two years. Without

them the softening‐up of the enemy’s

communication lines, the smashing of railway

centres in the occupied countries to produce

the chaos that prepared the way for our

invasion, could never have happened.”

Alex Hippisley-Cox is the PR representative for

the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival

Publisher: WH Allen

ISBN: 9780753557808

Number of pages: 448

Weight: 723g

Dimensions: 240 x 40 x 162mm

INSIDE HISTORY 57


BLACK GOLD:

THE HISTORY OF HOW

COAL MADE BRITAIN

JEREMY PAXMAN

There are two stories that Jeremy

Paxman tells in his new book, Black Gold:

The History of How Coal Made Britain. The

first is the national story, how coal was the

driver behind the Industrial Revolution and

the British Empire. The country’s hunger

for this black rock was needed for steam

to drive the trains, and the Royal Navy to

rule the waves. This insatiable appetite for

energy came with a price, and that is the

second story. The human cost. Those that

lived in the coal mining villages of South

Wales, the Midlands, the North East and

Yorkshire, from the early years of the 19th

century, worked 12 hours a day and 7 days

a week. Up until the late 19th century

women and girls worked down the mines,

and young boys too. The numerous

disasters, most tragic of all Aberfan, are

movingly told, as accidents accounted for

thousands of deaths. The numbers that

died from illnesses such as respiratory

disease will never be known.

Whilst the miners were suffering, their

employers were not, and Paxman brutally

exposes the fabulous sums accrued by the

landed aristocracy; men such as the

Marquess of Bute and the Marquess of

Londonderry, and their descendants,

Publisher: HarperCollins

ISBN: 9780008128340

Number of pages: 320

Weight: 690g

Dimensions: 234 x 272 x 39 mm

raked in such vast amounts of cash that

they literally did not know what to do with

it. As a result, insane projects were

embarked upon, and money outrageously

wasted. Meanwhile the miners continued

their struggle down the pits, desperate for

proper representation and the holy grail of

public ownership.

Paxman has made a

vital contribution in

ensuring this

important

episode of our history

has finally received

the attention it

deserves.

In 1947 the Attlee administration granted

what the miners had always wished for,

however a new set of challenges

remained, and Paxman shows how

successive governments, both

Conservative and Labour, failed to square

the circle of an efficient industry with a

happy workforce.

Orwell’s line from The Road to Wigan Pier,

‘the coal-miner is second in importance

only to the man who ploughs the soil’, was

sadly no longer true by the time the

Thatcher government had decided to

break up the industry. And as Paxman

lays out so effectively when dealing

with that 1984/5 Miner’s Strike, it was

clear that was the ultimate objective,

and aided by blunders from the

secretary of the National Union of

Mineworkers, Arthur Scargill. His

account of the battle of Orgreave is

particularly delicate, and the behaviour

of various police forces shaming.

What is extraordinary is the scarcity of

publications on the subject; not only on

the history of coal-mining and its

contribution to Britain’s rise in the 18th

century, but of the Miner’s Strike itself.

Thanks to Paxman, we now have a

significant addition. Whilst passions still

run high on both sides of the debate,

what is certainly true is that hundreds

of communities were dismantled, and

their sense of betrayal by the political

class lingers today. Paxman has made

a vital contribution in ensuring this

important episode of our history has

finally received the attention it

deserves.

Oliver Webb-Carter is the Editor of

Aspects of History.

@olliewcq

58 INSIDE HISTORY


Tunnel 29:

THE true story of an

extraordinary escape

beneath the berlin wall

Helena Merriman

In the summer of 1962 Joachim Rudolph

and a team of diggers had an idea. Having

previously escaped to the West of Berlin,

Rudolph was now heading back to East, only

this time, he was going underneath the Berlin

Wall in order to help others escape. What

followed was a 135-metre tunnel that ran

between a factory building in the west and a

tenement block cellar in the east. It would be

one of the most spectacular escape plans

devised. It had been attempted before but

many attempts had either failed or were foiled

by the infamous Stasi. It would become known

as Tunnel 29 after the 29 people who

managed to escape using it.

If like me, you tuned into Helena Merriman's

excellent podcast then you will already know

what to expect from Tunnel 29: The True Story

of an Extraordinary Escape Beneath the Berlin

Wall. Merriman excels in producing podcasts

but can this be translated into book form?

In short, the answer is, of course. Much of that

is due to how Merriman chooses to retell the

story. Short, sharp chapters give the narrative

the element of the same level of urgency felt

by those recalling their stories. It gives it a

similar feel to the award-winning podcast at

the pace of an extremely frantic thriller

complete with twists and turns that will keep

the reader gripped.

Ever since Anna Funder's Stasiland, writers

have gone in search of more stories and

interviews that help to form this new history of

the GDR (German Democratic Republic).

Whilst the story of Tunnel 29 is nothing new,

Merriman reminds us that it is how you tell the

story that really counts.

The first time this story was told was back in

1962 as Joachim Rudolph and his team were

tunneling back into the GDR as dozens of

men, women and children; were willing to risk

everything to escape. Back then, of course, the

television cameras were on them capturing

the whole event in real-time.

In many ways, you

could consider this to

be the director's cut

version of the podcast

and Merriman does not

disappoint.

Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews

with the survivors, and thousands of pages of

Stasi documents, Helena Merriman has plenty

to work with which adds even more to the

already excellent podcast. In many ways, you

could consider this to be the director's cut

version of the podcast and Merriman does not

disappoint.

Tunnel 29 has the feel of classic cold war

fiction yet as we know, the truth is often

stranger and if anything, more riveting. As the

group is infiltrated by the Stasi the pressure is

on, not only for the group of diggers but also

those waiting in the GDR to make their escape.

The tension of the situation is palpable, we

feel every centimetre dug and every drop of

sweat that hits the floor. This is where Tunnel

29 excels. In many respects, Merriman is a

storyteller first and at times it really shows.

The context of the situation in the

GDR is dealt with swiftly but concisely.

For those expecting more than this

then don't expect much. Merriman

after all is not a historian. Instead the

main focus is Joachim Rudolph, the

other diggers, and those who

escaped. As a journalist, she favours

their stories and rightly so. This after

all, is their story.

For fans of the podcast this is a mustread

giving you much more detail to

its predecessor. With over 6 million

downloads, the podcast produced by

Merriman is a hit and this book

deserves similar praise.

For those that haven't heard the

podcast (something you should

certainly do) then fear not as this

book covers everything and more.

Nick Kevern is the Editor of Inside

History Magazine

@nick_kevern

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN: 9781529334012

Number of pages: 336

Weight: 580g

Dimensions: 236 x 162 x 36 mm

INSIDE HISTORY 59


NOW STREAMING

You would be forgiven for not knowing too much

about the life of Dean Reed, that is of course

unless you lived in South America or the Soviet

Union where the singer was an icon. In those

areas of the world, Reed would be the pop star

who packed out stadiums and inspired a

generation. There was a very good reason for this,

he was their little piece of Americana within their

communist world.

Red Elvis sheds light on Reed’s extraordinary

career not only as a musician and actor but also

as an activist. Told through the voices of those

who knew him best (including his daughter,

Romana Reed) and historians who have studied

him, we quickly learn that there was more to Dean

Reed than first meets the eye. From his early

career to his untimely death in East Berlin, the

makers of this documentary take the viewer on a

journey of Cold War politics, activism and music.

Born in Colorado, Reed would begin his career

signing to Capitol records as they searched for the

next Elvis Presley. He would sign a seven record

deal with the record company and even audition

for Warner Brothers. Yet his career in the U.S did

not grow to the levels expected. His contract

would be sold to a syndicate following his first two

singles failing to hit the mark. The syndicate would

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control his image from now on. It was not a

good experience for the now controlled

young star.

Yet his single “Our Summer Romance” would

change everything for Reed as the single

exploded in South America. The people

adopted him as their new American idol. He

would chart above the likes of Elvis Presley

and Frank Sinatra in the South. His concerts

would sell out and he would find himself on

the cover of magazines.

60 INSIDE HISTORY


“I get very angry when I see injustices and untruths, And South America did

this to me so I can say that I can not only put entertainment into my art, but

that you have to say also “I am, by

profession, a showman, but in

ideology, I am something different.”

As the masses in South America fell in love with him, so

too did he fall in love with the people of South America.

Seeing the slums at first hand, he grew to dislike the

explotation of the American machine, blaming it for their

misery. It was his epiphany moment. A moment where he

realised that he could make a difference with his now

growing fame.

Reed would later tell East German Television that: “I get

very angry when I see injustices and untruths, And South

America did this to me so I can say that I can not only put

entertainment into my art, but that you have to say also “I

am, by profession, a showman, but in ideology, I am

something different.”

In 1977, the Stasi were ready to work with the American

singer. Dean Reed was now entering the realms of

becoming an informant. He was asked to report back

about his findings on a visit to Lebanon and Yasser Arafat.

He was now on the frontline. Meeting the Stasi after his

trip he would later complain to the top of the government

about them, highlighting that he wanted nothing to do

with the secret police. Reed may not have known this at

the time but he had just put a target on his back.

As life in the eastern block was taking its final breaths,

Reed was losing his popularity. He was seen as part of the

system by the youth of the 1980s. His music was now

seen as stale in comparison to the likes of Bruce

Springsteen. In terms of significance, Dean Reed was

losing the battle. A Stasi report would later say that Reed

referred to the GDR as a “Fascist State”. The American

rebel was now a problem. He was now seen as a Marxist

in the U.S and a traitor in the GDR. Yet for Reed, America

was always home and he was planning on returning.

From opposing the use of Nuclear bombs, the Vietnam

War, and many other American policies, Reed’s head was

being turned by socialism. Soon he would become an FBI

target who began to take note of his actions.

Growing ever despondent, he slowly becomes an enemy

of America. His music would become protest in nature

favouring the side of socialism. Needless to say, he was

now a political radical, an outcast in American eyes. Yet,

he was huge in the Soviet Union and particularly in the

GDR (German Democratic Republic).

In 1972, he would move to the very heart of the Cold War

itself, East Berlin. For the GDR, this was seen as a coup.

For Reed, he was now in what he considered to be a

socialist paradise. Marrying an East German model,

performing to sell-out crowds, making movies that would

further propel his fame in his new homeland. Yet, the

Stasi were also taking note.

He would appear on 60 Minutes in the U.S where he

spoke about favouring Gorbachov over Regan. It was a PR

disaster for what he believed to be a homecoming.

Returning to the GDR Reed was now looking at getting

out. Unknown to him, he was being monitored by a friend

and Stasi informer known as “Frank Rieg”. Then Reed

vanishes.

Reed’s body was found a few days later in a lake.

Drowning was declared as the official cause of death. The

real cause has been a mystery ever since.

Dean Reed’s story is an extraordinary one. A man who

was at the epicentre of the Cold War itself. A Rebel,

Musician, Friend, Husband and a Father. The filmmakers

deal with his story with care and affection but also have a

real understanding not only of the man they are dealing

with but also the turbulent political times in which he

lived.

INSIDE HISTORY 61


Historic WEEKENDER

48 HOURS IN...

CARLISLE

Words: Nick Kevern

images: inside history

During frequent trips to Scotland I

regularly passed the historic city of

Carlisle. There were times when I felt like

the northbound M6 was a second home

but as a creature of habit, I would usually

simply travel past Carlisle in order to

cross the border to Scotland which is only

eight miles away.

It was something I always regretted as

soon as I passed. Given the rich history of

the city dating back nearly 2000 years it is

a place I have always wanted to visit, after

all, it is a history lovers paradise.

The Crown and Mitre Hotel would be my

home for the next 48 hours as I

explored this historic city and its

surrounding area. Situated in the City

Centre it has played a part in the city's

history in its own unique way. Following

the end of the First World War, U.S

President Woodrow Wilson visited

Carlisle in what he called a “Pilgrimage of

the Heart” as he sought to know more

about his mother’s homeland. He stayed

at the Crown and Mitre Hotel for his

visit. It was also here at the Crown and

Mitre, where he was given the freedom

of the city in December 1918. Woodrow

Wilson has left an impression on the

City with a plaque outside the Church

where his mother’s father was a

minister and also, in traditional British

fashion, a pub named after him.

Whilst Woodrow Wilson would have

struggled to have explored the city as

freely as I could (after all, I’m just a

writer and not the President of the

United States), he would have at least

seen some of the highlights on this list

as Inside History explores what we

consider to be the top five things you

can do on your visit to Carlisle.

62 INSIDE HISTORY


INSIDE HISTORY 63


1

TULLIE HOUSE

If you come to Carlisle then you simply have to

spend a few hours in Tullie House Museum and

Art Gallery. The Roman exhibition is a particular

highlight with archaeology at its very core. A

stunning visual presentation about Roman

Emporers kicks off the exhibit before exploring

the archaeological finds in and around Carlisle.

Created in partnership with the British Museum,

the displays are of a high standard. From day to

day life in Roman Carlisle to the significance of

Walls throughout time and even a Roman

murder mystery. This particular exhibit will keep

those who love Roman history occupied for a

long time.

The rest of the museum is an interesting mix of

history, natural history and even costumes. It

would be easy to find yourself engrossed in the

displays on offer. The museum not only

quenches your thirst for knowledge but also

with a large cafe, can also quench your

appetites.

2

HADRIAN'S WALL

A trip to Carlisle would not be complete without

a trip to possibly its most famous landmark.

Hadrian’s Wall spans 73 miles across northern

England and was made a World Heritage Site in

1987. Taking approximately six years to

complete, the wall is believed to have begun

construction following a visit by Emperor

Hadrian in AD 122 to separate what was

deemed to be the barbarians of the north from

the Roman Empire. The wall today might be

incomplete but it is easy to imagine its sheer

vastness.

With only parts of the wall now accessible there

is still plenty to see and learn. From the

Birdowald Roman Fort, the Roman Army

Museum in Walltown, and the Vindolanda, all of

which have parts of the Wall to stroll along.

However, select your timing right to visit the

majority of these attractions as most are closed

in the winter months. Yet, the parts of the wall

that remain, are never closed if you fancy a

winter hike along the wall and to take in their

beautiful surroundings.

64 INSIDE HISTORY


INSIDE HISTORY 65


3

Carlisle castle

For nine centuries, Carlisle Castle has proudly

dominated the city. During its history, It has withstood

many sieges, held captive a royal prisoner, and been

home to the King's Own Royal Border Regiment.

You can visit the turret in which Mary, Queen of Scots

was held captive from 1568, by order of her cousin

Queen Elizabeth I.

Its vibrant exhibition tells us even more where you can

discover more stories, from Mary Queen of Scots, and

Bonnie Prince Charlie, to notorious

Border Reivers such as Kinmont

Willie Armstrong. Hear about his

4

dramatic rescue in the exhibition.

Be sure to check out the famed Prisoners' carvings.

Originally thought to have been carved by prisoners,

recent research suggests that they may be the work of

bored prison guards. Probably dating back to the 15th

century they show support for the ruling family of the

time, the Dacres, and include images of their crests.

With so much to see and do at Carlisle Castle make sure

to dedicate enough time to make the most of it. I

suggest a whole afternoon. Also on the grounds is our

next attraction which is well worth checking out whilst

you on the castle's grounds.

CUMBRIA'S MUSEUM OF MILITARY LIFE

Situated just outside Carlisle Castle is Cumbria’s

Museum of Military Life. It might be small but

remember, good things often come in small packages

and this delightful museum is a testament to that

statement. This museum is dedicated to the 300-year

history of Cumbria’s Army Regiments and told through

displays, artifacts as well as impressive visual and video

presentations narrated by popular television presenter

and Carlise’s own, Helen Skelton.

What was particularly poignant was the inclusion of

some personal stories within the displays including that

of Private James Smith who was awarded the Victoria

Cross for rescuing wounded soldiers in No Man’s Land

from the 19th to 21st December 1914. The collections

are well-curated leaving you with plenty to see at your

own pace.

66 INSIDE HISTORY


5 CARLISLE CATHEDRAL INSIDE HISTORY 67

It might be the second smallest Catherdral in England but

for what it lacks in size, it makes up for in splendor. Its starfilled

Choir Ceiling might be restoration but it certainly

catches the eye. A stand-out piece of artwork perfect to

gaze at, contemplate and pray. But that is not to say not

that everything in the Cathedral is restoration work as

there are plenty of original features dating back to the

medieval period. A set of four painted medieval panels

might have seen better days but they are perfect just the

way they are. One depicts the twelve apostles whilst the

other three illustrate the lives of St Anthony of Egypt, St

Augustine of Hippo, and St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne.

The East Window is stunningly spectacular. At 50 feet high,

some of the original stained glass remains near the top

whilst the lower part depicting the life of Christ, dates from

1861. Also be sure to check out the amazing treasures of

the Treasury.

Carlisle is a special place for history enthusiasts that is

for sure. However, whether you are here for its history

or not, there is something special about this city. The

locals are friendly, the city centre is immaculately clean

and with its independent restaurants, it is also a place of

gastronomical variance. No matter whether you are

staying for a few days or even a day trip as part of your

Lake District adventures, the stunning City of Carlisle

has something for everyone and plenty to keep you

occupied. Woodrow Wilson may have come to Carlisle

as part of his “Pilgrimage of the Heart” and it is easy to

understand why he called it that. Carlisle has a habit of

taking a piece of your heart with it, leaving you eager to

return.


DAy-trippers

British museum

the world of

stonehenge

The world of Stonehenge (17 February –

17 July 2022) is the UK’s first ever major

exhibition on the story of Stonehenge.

Key loans coming to the British Museum

include: Britain’s most spectacular grave

goods which were unearthed in the

shadow of Stonehenge; elaborate ancient

gold hats depicting the cosmos; and the

astonishing wooden monument –

dubbed Seahenge - that recently

emerged after millennia from the sands

of a Norfolk beach.

Stonehenge was built 4,500 years ago

around the same time as the Sphinx and

the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. This

landmark exhibition will set the great

monument in the context of one of the

most remarkable eras on the islands of

Britain and Ireland, which saw huge social

and technological revolutions, alongside

fundamental changes in people’s

relationships with the sky, the land and

one another.

At the heart of the exhibition will be the

sensational loan of a 4,000-year-old

Bronze Age timber circle, dubbed

Seahenge due its similarity to Wiltshire’s

Stonehenge. It is a hugely significant and

extremely rare surviving example of a

timber monument that has also been

called “Stonehenge of the Sea.” It

reemerged on a remote Norfolk beach

in 1998 due to the shifting sands, and it

consists of a large upturned tree stump

surrounded by 54 wooden posts. The

oak posts, some up to 3m tall, were

tightly packed in a 6.6m diameter circle

with their bark-covered sides facing

outwards. Inside the circle was a mighty

oak, its roots upturned towards the

heavens like branches. Collectively the

circle creates a giant tree. A narrow

entranceway was aligned on the rising

midsummer sun and it is thought this

monument was used for ritual purposes.

Seahenge comes to the British Museum

from the Norfolk Museums Service,

where it is partially displayed at the Lynn

Museum in King’s Lynn. This is the first

time Seahenge has ever gone on loan.

Visitors to the exhibition at the British

Museum will see some of the

monument’s most important elements,

including many timber posts that have

never been displayed before. They will

also see the hugely important ‘doorway’

where worshippers would enter. Its

inclusion in the exhibition will help tell

the story of the shared beliefs that

68 INSIDE HISTORY


INSIDE HISTORY 69


Seahenge at the time of excavation. © Wendy George.

Dr Jennifer Wexler, project curator of The world of

Stonehenge at the British Museum, said: “If Stonehenge

is one of the world’s most remarkable surviving ancient

stone circles, then Seahenge is the equivalent in timber.

But as it was only rediscovered in 1998, it is still relatively

unknown. We know about some aspects of the

monument, including that it was constructed in the

spring and summer of 2049 BC, from mighty oaks. But

there’s much that still eludes us, including exactly what it

was used for. Perhaps the central upturned trunk was

used in funerary rituals to support a dead body. Perhaps

entering the circular shrine brought worshippers closer

to the otherworld. By displaying Seahenge in this

exhibition we hope to bring it to a wider audience, and it

provides an unparalleled opportunity to time travel back

to the moment when circles of stone and timber were at

the heart of people’s beliefs.”

Nearly two-thirds of the objects going on display in The

World of Stonehenge will be loans, with objects coming

from 35 lenders across the UK, the Republic of Ireland,

France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland. Of

these, the majority have never been seen in the UK

before. Newly revealed today as going on show in the

exhibition are two rare and remarkable gold coneshaped

hats - the Schifferstadt gold hat from Germany

and the Avanton gold cone from France. This is the very

first time either will have been seen in Britain. These are

decorated with elaborate solar motifs that reflect the

religious importance of the sun during this era. Only two

other examples of these hats are known to have

survived. Serving as headgear during ceremonies or

rituals, they perhaps imbued the wearer with divine or

otherworldly status. Carefully buried alone or

accompanied by axes, rather than interred with the

deceased, it seems they were held in trust for the

community. Similar motifs are to be found on a belt plate

on loan from the National Museum of Denmark. This

example, and others like it, was found on the stomach of

a women buried in Scandinavia. Its conical central point

might represent the same concept as the sun hat, but in

miniature form.

Alongside the international loans, visitors will see some

of the most important objects unearthed in the

Stonehenge landscape, many of them now in the

collections of neighbouring museums. On loan from

Wiltshire Museum will be the whole hoard of objects that

accompanied a burial known as the Bush Barrow site.

This burial hoard has never been lent in its entirety

before. They include the ‘gold lozenge’ which is the finest

example of Bronze Age gold craftsmanship ever found in

Britain, which was buried across the chest of the Bush

Barrow chieftain. This grave, with commanding views of

Stonehenge, shows close parallels with the richest graves

from northern France, eastern Germany and even

Ancient Greece. The exhibition will illustrate these longdistance

connections.

From Salisbury Museum will be the treasures buried with

the Amesbury Archer, a man honoured with remarkable

grave goods after his death. His grave contained the

richest array of items ever found in a Bronze Age burial

site in the UK, and 39 of these items – including copper

knives, gold ornaments and flint tools – will travel to the

exhibition. The gold discovered is thought to be among

70 INSIDE HISTORY


The gold lozenge of the Bush Barrow grave goods, 1950–1600 BC Amesbury, Wiltshire, England.

Photographs taken by David Bukach. © Wiltshire Museum, Devizes

the earliest found in Britain. The Amesbury Archer was

also buried close to Stonehenge, but he came from the

area of modern day Switzerland or Germany. His early

dates mean that he could have participated in the

construction of the iconic phase of the stone circle.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said: “To

understand the purpose of the great stone monument

constructed on Salisbury Plain, it is essential to consider

its contemporary world and the culture of its builders.

We are delighted to be able to do this in this

unprecedented exhibition. Over 430 exceptional objects

are being brought together, objects which are the last

and only testament of sophisticated and ingenious

people, and we are grateful to all of the lenders who

have made it possible.”

The exhibition has been organised with the State

Museum of Prehistory, Halle/Saale, Germany, who will be

lending the Nebra Sky Disc, the oldest surviving

representation of the cosmos anywhere in the world.

Decorated sun-disc from a woman’s belt, c. 1400

BC Langstrup, Frederiksborg Amt and Vellinge,

Fyn, Denmark. CC-BY-SA, Roberto Fortuna & Kira

Ursem, National Museum of Denmark

The world of Stonehenge

runs from 17 February – 17

July 2022 in the Sainsbury

Exhibitions Gallery at the

British Museum.

Open Saturday – Thursday

10.00–17.00, Friday 10.00–

20.30. Last entry 90 mins

before closing.

Details on Tickets below:

www.britishmuseum.org/

stonehenge

A full public programme of

events will accompany the

exhibition.

www.britishmuseum.org

INSIDE HISTORY 61


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