Yesterday Conal asked about a skating tragedy from the 1840s where two small boys’ fall through the ice was ascribed to their committing the heinous crime of playing on the Sabbath. The gravestone in St Mary’s Church, Woolwich has gone and it was feared that no one had recorded its hard-hitting inscription.
And indeed they haven’t. Well, not entirely.
I am delighted to say, however, that the extraordinary Julian Watson (is there anything that guy doesn’t know about Greenwich?) has yet again come up with the goods. He tells me:
This is p.776 of ‘Records of the Woolwich District’ by William Thomas Vincent. WTV was the founder of the Woolwich Antiquarian Society and Editor of the Kentish Independent. This standard work on Woolwich history was published in parts in 1890 (if I remember right). As well as a great historical source it is rich in journalistic anecdotes like this one. Mulgrave Pond is still there tucked away behind Artillery Place. Vincent’s work was unsurpassed until the publication of Peter Guillery’s recent magnificent book on Woolwich published as part of the Survey of London.
So – here’s the gen. We were looking a good ten years too late for the article, it appears there were five casulaties not two and that the pond was not on Blackheath, which makes it all the more impressive that Julian knew where to look…
As always, click on the image to enlarge it.
Wow, on so many levels. Wow that Julian knew exactly where to find this extraordinary anecdote. Wow that those 19th Century patricians were so hard-hearted. Wow that Bell and Moseley’s big idea to check whether it was okay for them to skate was by getting a bunch of small children scrabbling around on the ice for a ha’penny. Wow that the jurors from the inquest put their hands in their pockets to pay for such a headstone, which can’t have been cheap given the amount of carving on it, but which needed to be done to warn other youngsters of the dangers of playing on the Lord’s Day. And Wowww that someone actually removed – presumably destroyed – this extraordinary memorial without even recording it properly.
Tell you what, though. I ‘ve got to see this book. The next article about the ill-winged bullet sounds just as fascinating as this one. Race you to the Heritage Centre…