A London Frost Fair
It has been a mild winter here in London and now trees are budding fast, although my father, born on the first of May, always said he was ‘born in a heatwave, christened in a snowstorm.’ So who knows what might happen yet?
In the winter of 1815, following an immense freezing fog, the Thames solidified. The people of London held a Frost Fair, with skittles, booths and dancing, and the roasting of a whole sheep referred to as â€˜Lapland Muttonâ€™, whose cooked flesh was sold for a shilling a slice. There were even funfair rides, with whirling chairs spun on long ropes around stakes hammered into the ice. There were streamers, flags and an immense number of signs.
Typographers and printers set up shop along the frozen causeway, the newly named â€˜City Roadâ€™. A man ate hot coals. There was a bear-garden. The Tories erected a pampleteering booth. Tradesmen set up every imaginable kind of business. And the women, slipping and sliding across the brown-stained ice in their muffs and silken winter finery, came for the shopping. At the end of March, the resulting thaw scoured the Thames of its boats and barges, as the jagged frozen blocks smashed their way toward the estuary with the ebbing of the tide.
To see such a scene, check out the film version of ‘Orlando’.