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Showing posts from February, 2018

Friday Follies: Frost Fairs and Alligators on Ice

A 17th century Frost Fair on the River Thames, by Thomas Wyke (1683-84) It’s February, and so far this year there've been record cold temperatures in many places across North America. That puts me in mind of the last Great Freeze in London, which took place during the first week of February in 1814. It got so cold that year that the river Thames froze completely solid between London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge. Signs were posted around town to let citizens know it was safe to walk on the frozen river, and an impromptu "Freezeland Street" was established on the ice. Vendors of almost every type set up booths on this street, creating a grand Frost Fair.  Butchers, bakers, booksellers and barbers offered their wares and services. You could also find skittle alleys, toyshops, and places to gamble and buy beer, gin, brandy-balls and even gingerbread. Hawkers worked their way through the crowds, selling pies, oysters, fruit and even ballads. Oddly enough, al