Page 8 - August 2017
P. 8

|  A Touch of Frost |                             |  Bob Richardson  (9718)  |

            ou may be reading this on one of   froze at regular intervals. The geography
            the hottest days of 2017. Record-  of the river and particularly the nineteen
       Ybreaking summer temperatures         very narrow arches of the ancient crossing
       have been forecast for the months of July   encouraged freezing by restricting the fl ow
       and August, so what better way to cool   of the waters.
       down than a trawl through the icy waters     Among the Frost Fair keepsakes at St
       of the wintry River Thames?           Bride is a ticket, printed on the Thames
                                                      by G. Croom on 31st January
                                                      1684, during one of the coldest
                                                      British winters ever recorded.
                                                      The river was frozen for 10
                                                      weeks, and the bitter weather
                                                      gave birth to Britain’s greatest
                                                      Frost Fair. The surviving
                                                      keepsake lists some of the
                                                      off spring of King Charles II
                                                      including James (Duke of
                                                      Monmouth), George Fitzroy
                                                      (Duke of Northumberland)
                                                      and Anne Tudor (later Queen
                                                      Anne), cheekily adding
                                                      “Hans, In Kelder”—a mildly
                                                      off ensive slang term for an
                                                      unborn child. ‘A bun in the
                     Frost Fair 1814
                                                      oven’ is the nearest modern
         Frost Fairs on the capital’s main artery   equivalent. Charles was known to have
       date back to 1608, the fi rst recorded use   a string of mistresses (the most famous
       of the frozen river surface as a trading and   being the actress Eleanor ‘Nell’ Gwyn) and
       entertainment space, although records   numerous illegitimate children.
       relating to the freezing of the Thames date     Mr Croom, the printer, would have
       back to 250AD, when it was frozen for   been aware of the King’s sense of
       nine weeks. Since the 17th century printers   humour—he acknowledged his aff airs
       have taken advantage of these natural   and ever-expanding family—and the
       events to produce and sell keepsakes to   ticket was reputedly printed especially
       those visiting the fairs, and many pieces   for him; he is known to have visited the
       of ephemera have survived the centuries.   fair just before the thaw. The piece was
       A number of these are held at St Bride   probably pulled from a copper plate as the
       Library in Fleet Street.              variable letterforms suggest it wasn’t set
         Between 1209 and 1831, while the old   from conventional moveable types. The
       London Bridge was standing, the Thames   border elements also show many minor
       180
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