Page 10 - August 2017
P. 10

|  A Touch of Frost |                                      |  Continued  |

       greater depth and by the beginning of   Richardson or Cruickshank’ according to
       February, Londoners were on the frozen   Edward Walford, author of Frost Fairs on
       river in their thousands.             the Thames (1886).
         Marquees and booths were quickly      The 1814 thaw brought chaos to the
       erected, selling ‘Good Gin’, souvenirs   City. An estimated £20,000 (£1.5m today)
       and slices of cooked lamb (advertised as   damage was caused by the shifting ice,
       ‘Lapland Mutton’) spit-roasted in a metal   which smashed the hulls of boats and
       tray suspended above the ice. One tent   even pulled one property into the river. In
       had a haunch of venison hanging outside,   addition, a major fi re destroyed Custom
       with a notice reading ‘Stag to be roast’,   House and that blaze is depicted in a
       so we know that a number of fi res were   contemporary engraving showing the river
       incautiously lit on the frozen river.  thick with small icebergs.

         The year 1814 saw the printing of an     The Frost Fair of 1814 was the last of
       entire book on the icy Thames, rather than   the big events on the frozen Thames; none
       the usual cards, ballads and broadsides.   would be seen on that scale again, but
       Frostiana, or the History of the River   even that could not rival the Frost Great
       Thames in a Frozen State, was at least   Fair of 1683-84.
       partly printed and published on the ice on     Printers were always at the heart of the
       5th February 1814. Sections of the book   London Frost Fairs. It was relatively easy
       include instructions on the building of   to move a press onto the ice, but securing
       an ice-house and on resuscitating poor   it must have been a challenge. The bitter
       unfortunates who had fallen through   cold may explain some of the shaky
       the ice, and The Art of Skating. The   composition work. One printed verse
       publisher’s offi  ce was supposedly at Snow   which has survived states:
       Hill, but that should be taken with a pinch
       of salt. Frostiana is an exceptionally      You that walk here, and do desyn to
       rare book, with copies fetching £400     tell
       - £500, but a good PDF reading copy       Your children’s children what this
       may be found at     year befell,
       y9b4ay8k by those with internet access.       Go print your names and take a
       A copy of Frostiana is held at the British     dram within
       Library, but not at St Bride. The book is       For such a year as this, has seldom
       illustrated, with pictures ‘worthy of Gilray,     been seen.
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