Saturday, November 15, 2014


... the site of the ghastly Tyburn Tree where for many years people were hanged,on a vast triangular gallows that could take several victims at once. People gathered in vast crowds to watch, and there are descriptions of them doing so, bringing packed lunches and with jugglers and musicians to entertain them during the wait for the victims to arrive from Newgate,  Sometimes the victims were very young Sometimes they were  swindlers or had forged coins, and were unpopular as swindlers and forgerers are today. Sometimes they were good-looking or behaved with remarkable courage, and so got a cheer from those watching them writhe and choke and die. Sometimes they were members of a religious body deemed to be a threat to the State (including of course, the RC Church), and sometimes they were thugs or murderers. Hanging - and in some cases mutilation and butchery while still alive after a partial hanging - was a public spectacle that drew immense excitement and people travelled long distances to watch it all. Nor does there seem to have been any opposition to the notion of  families spending a day in this way: along with watching public burnings at the stake,  it was apparently an acceptable way for a Christian to spend a London afternoon.

 Next time you are told that we are living today in  a particularly gross and horrible era,  remember that.

No comments: