My new book made it to number one best-seller on Amazon! AND my first pitch to a newspaper is the Travel Feature in the Independent newspaper!

I’ve had such a busy week as I so often do that I was only aware of one of these events last night. Namely my new book Secret Gardens of the City of London which had been climbing in the charts since its release just over a month ago reached the number 1 ranking in its Amazon section.

Sir Isaac Newton spent his lockdown from the Plague working out the Theory of Gravity, I spent my lockdown creating this.

Secret Gardens of the City of London Kindle Cover
Secret Gardens of the City of London Kindle Cover

Secret Gardens of the City of London is available in Kindle format for £3.99 from Amazon UK, $4.99 from Amazon.com and all over Amazon stores around the world.

Secret Gardens of the City of London is also out worldwide in Paperback including Amazon UK  and Amazon.com 

Last but not least, if you’re an Apple freak then Secret Gardens of the City of London will shortly be out on the Apple Store / iBooks along with other top retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and more.

download_on_ibooks_badge_us-uk_090913-2

Then this morning I checked the Independent Newspaper website and found out that a pitch I wrote a few weeks ago has been for almost a day the Main Feature in the Travel Section

You can read the article by clicking on the image above or here https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/uk/london-secret-gardens-hidden-city-walks-b742227.html

Obviously quite thrilled to have a modicum of success and I haven’t been a number 1 best-seller for a few years so that is nice.

Whilst I am here, the tour that all of this is based on is the number one off-beat London Experience on Trip Advisor/Viator and you can book it from the main sites or directly through me at https://yeoldeenglandtours.co.uk/our-tours-2/london-tours/secret-sanctuary-gardens-walk/

Strange that the government still won’t help the 3 million #ExcludedUK people like myself as we are seen as fraudsters and not viable but then my teachers were sexist and wouldn’t let me study history or journalism and I think I proved them wrong.

Also interesting that government minister Jacob Rees-Mogg who has done nothing to help us wrote his own book in 2019 and despite his £200 million wealth and high status, his booked flopped at ‘only’ 719 sales. Maybe he is just jealous. As Mama used to say, money can’t buy class.

Whether you’re a government minister (I’ve had a few), a backpacker or anyone in between, if you want the best tour of London you know it’s with myself and my team at Ye Olde England Tours.

As it happened a few hours later I checked and I had two books in the Top 5. This must be what it is like to be like The Beatles with multiple entries in the charts. I have their lockdown hair but sadly not the money!

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Coronavirus Diary 71 – Taking part in the legislative process

Yesterday I was fortunate to be invited to a small protest march in Westminster in aid of furthering the cause of the 3 million #ExcludedUK group of people who have had no income or government support since the virus started.

I may well do a full post tomorrow but I thought I would share a few of the photos and tweets from prominent figures that day.

This is myself with Jamie Stone MP just outside Downing Street.  Jamie has been a very prominent supporter of ours in Parliament and it was great to get to meet him and hopefully everyone I chatted with helps them understand the situation more.

A little later on I met Caroline Lucas who is an MP and Co-Leader for the Green Party.  She always speaks very well in support of many oppressed groups and when she popped over, I took the opportunity to tell her briefly about my plight and make a joke of no-one recognising us with the masks on.

It’s particularly fitting as Chancellor Rishi Sunak has labelled us 3 million as unviable and not worthy of help and yet when I got home I received by certificate for Ye Olde England Tours which has been found by an independent organisation to be an extremely sustainable and ethical business and there aren’t many of those around are there?  It’s nice to see a congratulations from Caroline, you’d think she would be something of an expert wouldn’t you!

Towards the end when many had dispersed I had the opportunity to listen and talk to Paul Scully who is a Conservative MP and Minister for London which amongst other things is obviously a hot bed of tourism and related industries.

As with my meeting with Oliver Dowden a few weeks ago, I think it helped him assess the situation and much credit should be given as he obviously didn’t have to come out and discuss anything with anyone.

From what I can tell, all the government ministers would like to help except for the one who is charge of financial issues, Rishi Sunak and it is interesting that they do read and reply to their social media whilst I have tweeted and written to Rishi and Boris hundreds of times but heard back nothing… I’m sure it must go noticed by someone though.

I know from my tours how we in the U.K. are almost unique in our ease of being able to meet, speak to and access our representatives and even government ministers and that is still a good and very special thing.

 

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Waylands Smithy – The neolithic monument which is home to a supernatural Elf!

Monday saw my post on the ancient Ridgeway road and I used that to visit another ancient place, Waylands Smithy.

I’ve wanted to visit here for years but never got around to it as despite being not too far from London, it’s in a rather isolated spot and only accessible from the Ridgeway on foot, bicycle or horseback.  It’s about 1.5 miles from the nearest modern road or carpark and whilst relatively many people were heading off to other nearby sights, only a few were headed this way and the two people in front of us bizarrely turned back a few minutes before reaching their destination.

I’m a huge fan of West Kennet Longbarrow which in many ways is my favourite spot in Southern England, both are isolated and on top of rolling hills except West Kennet is in the open whilst Waylands Smithy is delightfully hidden in a large copse of beech trees giving it secluded and magical air.

It being late September, the trees were just beginning to change colour which made the experience even more wondrous as we pondered the ancient builders who built this place around 5,600 years ago.

Though we know him as Weyland and our Saxon forebears were familiar with Weland, the figure most associated with this spot was actually a Norse elf, Völundr.   Völundr was a Smith but not any old smith but one with the supreme if not supernatural skills and his reputation for beautiful weaponry and jewellery was known across northern Europe including Sweden.

Völundr the Norse Elf smith

Völundr the Norse Elf smith

King Niduth of Sweden was rather greedy and wanted Völundr’s fantastic skills all for himself and kidnapped the smith before savagely ham-strung him (cutting his hamstrings making him almost as a cripple) to stop him escaping and forcing him to work exclusively for himself.

Völundr pretended to go along with this but when the opportunity arose he tricked the king’s two young sons into his forge and decapitated them before creating astonishingly beautiful gold goblets from their skulls and stunning jewels from their eyes and teeth.  If that wasn’t enough Völundr presented the goblets as gifts to the unsuspecting king and queen, and their daughter, who were all delighted with his hard work.

As the king was enjoying his drinks from his new goblets, he was aware of his missing sons and had search parties sent out to find them but his daughter Princess Beahilda subtly approached Völundr to mend a beautiful ring her father had given her.   Völundr immediately recognised the ring as one he had made for the Swan-Princess, his wife and it made him so furious that he drugged Princess Beahilda,  raped her and flew away on magic wings as he did so taunting King Niduth his only male heir now was growing inside Beahilda’s womb and that Völundr was the father!

Waylands Smithy

Waylands Smithy

AnAnglo flew until he felt safe in somewhere the King would never find him, here in deepest Oxfordshire where he made a home for himself in the all ready extremely ancient tomb whilst continuing his trade which many believe included the magnificent sword of Excalibur which Merlin the magician asked him to create for the young King Arthur.

Völundr or Wayland as is easier for me to type is also famous for shedding horses in his smithy.  Ancient legend has it that if a traveller on the Ridgeway had his horse lose his shoe, that if her were leave the horse in the glade overnight then it would be fitted with a new horseshoe over night.    It must be an old belief as back in the 9th century it was already known as Welandes smithy.

Waylands Smithy

Waylands Smithy

Wayland’s Smithy is about 185 feet or (56 metres) long and around  43 feet (13 metres) wide and was actually built in two phases; Phase 1 was constructed  between 3,590 and 3,555 BC.  It was a rectangular stone and timber box, with two split tree trunks at either end and a paved stone floor.  Within a 15 year period, the remains of 14 people – 11 men, 2 women and a child – were placed there and the box was covered by a small mound of chalk and earth.  Their badly smashed bones were uncovered in the 1960s, along with some other artefacts – arrow heads, fragments of pottery and quern-stones.

Looking back the length of Waylands Smithy

Sometime between 3,460 and 3,400 BC, another barrow was built over the top, with a stone chamber at the southern end.  At that time, it is thought the Ridgeway ran right past the sealed entrance and the temptation must have been too much for someone over the millennia as at some point, the tomb was looted, though bones from 8 remaining bodies were found during excavations in 1919.

Looking into the tomb

Looking into the tomb

It’s incredible to think that these people had been dead 2,800 years before Wayland arrived and like other places you can see what a massive job it must have been to create this structure given that there is no natural stone here except for chalk.

Me at Waylands Smithy

Me at Waylands Smithy

I can’t wait to go back again, possibly one crisp and cold late autumn or mid-winter day, it was a most wonderful experience and as you’ll find out in a future post it seems we may have had a visit from Wayland later that day!

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Walking The Ridgeway, one of the oldest roads in the world

On Saturday I had my first and likely only real day out all year went to Oxfordshire to visit various ancient and picturesque sites.  One of the places I was looking forward to travelling on was the Ridgeway which is one of the oldest continually used roads anywhere in the world

For at least 5,000 years travellers have used the Ridgeway. The Ridgeway provided a reliable trading route to the Dorset coast and to the Wash in Norfolk.  Back then southern England was a much more treacherous place than it is today with warring tribes and predatory animals such as Wolves and Bears lurking around every corner.  Southern England was (and in places still is) rather swampy and so it was much quicker and safer to stick to high ground where possible.  The route even crosses the Thames at its narrowest point.

The Ridgeway amongst flood plains

The Ridgeway amongst flood plains

The high dry ground made travel easy and provided a measure of protection by giving traders a commanding view, warning against potential attacks. The road played a key role in the development of this part of Southern England. The Bronze Age saw the creation of the Uffington White Horse and the stone circle at Avebury. During the Iron Age, inhabitants took advantage of the high ground by building hillforts along the Ridgeway to help defend the trading route.

Many people think it was the Romans who built the first roads but as my old post shows, they merely improved upon many roads that were all ready here.  When the Romans were finally forced to evacuate, invading Saxon and Viking armies used the Ridgeway. In medievaltimes and later, the Ridgeway found use by drovers, moving their livestock from the West Country and Wales to markets in the Home Counties and London. Before the Enclosure Acts of 1750, the Ridgeway existed as an informal series of tracks across the chalk downs, chosen by travellers based on path conditions. Once enclosures started, the current path developed through the building of earth banks and the planting of hedges.

Even in WW2 the odd invasion defensive structure was put in place on or near the Ridgeway as it would be militarily important now as it was thousands of years ago.

The Ridgeway is 362 miles or 583 kilometres in length and connects Lyme Regis in Devon with Hunstanton in Norfolk, following the route of the chalk uplands.

There are those that believe the Ridgway is up to 8,000 years old. If so, the Greater Ridgeway might have continued beyond Norfolk for  a hundred or more miles into the heart of Doggerland. That was a fertile area which is now under the North Sea, and originally was part of the land bridge between Britain and mainland Europe.

In 1973 part of the ancient route became a long-distance National Trail, reaching out 87 miles (140 km) northeast from Overton Hill within the Avebury World Heritage Site to Ivinghoe Beacon which is just a few miles from where I was recently Visiting WW1 trenches in the heart of England.

Ridgeway National Trail

I’d driven past the start of the Ridgeway National Trail before but had never actually walked upon it.  I was near the Oxfordshire and Wiltshire border, an area of high and open ground.  It was incredible to think of all the people who must have travelled the same route up to possibly 8,000 years ago.

On the way to Waylands Smithy

Looking out over the high ground

Looking out over the high ground and an Iron Age Fortress!

As you can see from the photos above, the path is still kept in a very good condition especially considering the events of the year so far.

The Ridgeway at Mongwell

As you can see the Ridgeway isn’t totally in the open, this photo is from 10-15 miles away and shows it passing through a beautiful woodland in spring time.

Many people walk the entire length over a week or so but I was only on it for 3 miles and heading to see something else that whilst not quite as old was still ancient and infinitely  more magical, Waylands Smithy… the home of a very talented and important Elf. But more of him next time!

Incidentally, my new book Secret Gardens of the City of London is now at number 3 of the Amazon section charts.

Secret Gardens of the City of London is now at number 3!

Secret Gardens of the City of London is now at number 3!

Secret Gardens of the City of London is available in Kindle format for £3.99 from Amazon UK, $4.99 from Amazon.com and all over Amazon stores around the world.

Secret Gardens of the City of London is also out worldwide in Paperback including Amazon UK  and Amazon.com 

Last but not least, if you’re an Apple fan then Secret Gardens of the City of London then click on the Apple logo below.   Secret Gardens of the City of London is also available from other top retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and many more.

download_on_ibooks_badge_us-uk_090913-2

You can read more about Secret Gardens of the City of London on the dedicated book page from the top menu.

Secret Gardens of the City of London

Secret Gardens of the City of London

 

Posted in history, Life, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I found an old fashioned water well in my street!

Snooping around is part of my job and I end up in all sorts of weird and sometimes possibly illegal situations especially in the old City of London or out in the country.

Two days ago I noticed that there was a possible old-fashioned well in the garden of what centuries ago was the village vicarage and the building may well predate that as it is very grand.  Apparently it was built over sometime after piped water became a thing but when recent new owners moved in, they discovered it and rebuilt it in the style we all imagine old wells to be.

When I was a boy I actually used to wash the car of the person who lived here, a man with a white jaguar and hair something like the footballer Kevin Keegan.

It is said there may be a well in my garden or an immediate neighbour, if so it must be quite deep as we sit on the very top of a 500 feet hill which isn’t the first place you look for running water.

I’ve actually found something in the back garden just a half a shovels depth beneath the surface of the soil but it’s very large and I think some of it goes into a neighbouring garden which would lead me to think it may be the remains of a WW2 air-raid shelter.  Imagine if that were so, I could do tours in my very own garden!

The garden with a well is only 6 or 7 houses from me but whilst I live in a 200 year old workers cottage which is almost on the street, a vicar obviously has something a bit grander and the building is now in a small but very old complex with a gravel drive, ornamental trees and other grandiose paraphernalia.

I thought I might sneak in unnoticed but I had only gone a few houses when a friendly neighbour saw me with my iPad and the game was up.  Additionally the house between us and the well-house was having work done on it so the builders all heard it too.  I may was well have gone in with half the street behind with me!

I felt a little like when I went to the home of Edward Adrian Wilson a few months ago in Stanmore when I went to take photos of the old prison cells in the garden but again it was a total success and here is the old well and it even has a bucket attached though sadly no rope!

The water well in my street

The water well in my street

You can see some old photos of my street and actually the pine tree that overlooks the well here.

Or if wells are your thing (aren’t they everyones lol) then head to Looking for and finding Waxwell, a Holy Well in Pinner (London)

Incidentally, my new book Secret Gardens of the City of London is now at number 3 of the Amazon section charts.

Secret Gardens of the City of London is now at number 3!

Secret Gardens of the City of London is now at number 3!

Secret Gardens of the City of London is available in Kindle format for £3.99 from Amazon UK, $4.99 from Amazon.com and all over Amazon stores around the world.

Secret Gardens of the City of London is also out worldwide in Paperback including Amazon UK  and Amazon.com 

Last but not least, if you’re an Apple fan then Secret Gardens of the City of London then click on the Apple logo below.   Secret Gardens of the City of London is also available from other top retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and many more.

download_on_ibooks_badge_us-uk_090913-2

You can read more about Secret Gardens of the City of London on the dedicated book page from the top menu.

Secret Gardens of the City of London

Secret Gardens of the City of London

Posted in Heritage, history, Life | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Legend of Jack O’ Legs – Hertfordshire’s answer to Robin Hood!

We all know the story of Robin Hood, Little John and the others in Sherwood Forest but where I live we have a similarly motivated though perhaps less successful and well-know figure and his name is Jack O’Legs who also stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

Jack lived in a cave near the the town of Baldock and the village of Weston in Hertfordshire.   Jack was a very tall chap, in fact so tall that he could talk to people through their upstarts windows though admittedly they might not be quite so high as they are today.

Weston village sign, which depicts Jack O’Legs, a local giant who stole bread from the bakers of Baldock to feed the poor. Before he was hanged for his crimes, he requested that he shoot an arrow from his bow and be buried where it landed. The arrow was launched from outside Baldock and landed in Weston’s churchyard, where his grave stands.

All was well until one year there was a pretty bad harvest and the bakers from Baldock cornered the local market in flour and put the prices up which is something we can all sort of relate to today.  Thinking this to be somewhat unjust,  Jack O’Legs used to lay in wait for the bakers on what is now called Jack’s Hill between Weston and Graveley. He caught them, got the flour off them and gave it to his friends in Weston.

This happened a few times and understandably the profiteering bakers weren’t too happy about it and they laid in wait and ambushed him in a surprise attack before taking him to Baldock to execute him but before they did so they agreed to grant him a final request.

Jack fires towards Holy Trinity Church

Jack fires towards Holy Trinity Church

He said ‘point me towards Weston and where my arrow lands I wish to be buried’ . So they gave him his bow and arrow, which no one else could pull because it was so enormous, and he fired off his arrow into the sky towards Weston and it landed three miles further on in Weston churchyard with some accounts saying the arrow actually struck the steeple of the church before bouncing down into the soil.

Either way, Jack was buried where his arrow fell and you can still visit his grave today.  As sometimes used to be the case, Jack has both a headstone and a foot stone.  He really must have been a giant as the two stones are 14 feet apart or around 5 metres!

The grave of Jack O'Legs

The grave of Jack O’Legs at Weston Church

As with most stories from King Arthur onwards, it is likely that however unlikely or exaggerated the legend might sound to us, Jack likely was a really tall man who used his gifts to help the poor and then after his execution, the poor local people would remember him in a kindly fashion.

A steep slope on the Great North Road, near the village of Graveley, is where Jack was said to have robbed rich travellers, and is still called “Jack’s Hill”.

In this case we are able to narrow it down somewhat as the town of Baldock wasn’t founded until around 1148AD which is relatively modern for Britain.  Jack was first recorded in a poem by John Skelton in about 1521 called ‘Speak Parrot’ which is a diatribe against Cardinal Wolsey. In it he has a line saying ‘The gibbett of Baldock was made for Jack Leg’.  The fact the the writer didn’t expand on who Jack was indicates that anyone who was likely to hear the poem would be well aware of who Jack was.

The capture and execution of the giant suggest a period when it was possible for the local Lord to execute people caught red handed – a right known as infangenthef. And the whole story of Jack O’Legs suggests that he was subject to something like a legal lynching. Infangenthef was a practice granted to local Anglo-Saxon Lords as a way to maintain law and order locally but over the centuries that followed the Norman conquest, the practice fell out of favour.

What the Bakers did to Jack may seem brutal but life was harsh for most people and a baker’s life was not easy. The work was hard and the hours were very long. Because bread was such an important food for the people, there were many laws relating to it.

Jack O’Legs mural Letchworth school

Bakers who were found guilty of selling loaves that were under weight, could be locked in the pillory (a wooden framework on a post with holes for the head and hands) where everyone one could see that they had done wrong. People could shout abuse at them and throw rotten foods in their face. In times of famine, the local authorities could force the bakers to sell their bread for less than it cost to make. Sometimes bread was simply taken by them, without paying anything, to feed the town.

Nevertheless, there are so many references locally to Jack O’Legs that it must be based on fact and even today when driving on the Great North Road (now known as the A1) thousands of people every hour go up and down Jacks Hill from where he used to sit in wait.

Incidentally, my new book Secret Gardens of the City of London is now at number 3 of the Amazon section charts.

Secret Gardens of the City of London is now at number 3!

Secret Gardens of the City of London is now at number 3!

Secret Gardens of the City of London is available in Kindle format for £3.99 from Amazon UK, $4.99 from Amazon.com and all over Amazon stores around the world.

Secret Gardens of the City of London is also out worldwide in Paperback including Amazon UK  and Amazon.com 

Last but not least, if you’re an Apple fan then Secret Gardens of the City of London then click on the Apple logo below.   Secret Gardens of the City of London is also available from other top retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and many more.

download_on_ibooks_badge_us-uk_090913-2

You can read more about Secret Gardens of the City of London on the dedicated book page from the top menu.

Secret Gardens of the City of London

Secret Gardens of the City of London

Posted in history, Life, Popular Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Coronavirus Diary 70 – The front cottage garden in Autumn

Do you remember all the way back in April I wrote Coronavirus Diary 28  Dancing in the rain ? where I brought home this little fellow?

Well a long hot summer and a bit of care from myself has meant my tiny little spider plant has grown out of all proportions.

Hanging spider plant

Hanging spider plant

Fortunately the old front porch had a large hook protruding from near the roof.  Maybe for coats but it was just perfect to hang the spider plant from, breaking up the expanse of windows and adding to the cottage feel.

In fact most of the plants I made homes for in the early Spring have done well.  I ornamental grasses have come into their own as Autumn approaches.

Sadly the original Japanese willow tree died during the extreme heat and drought and when I had a few weeks of heavy media work, it sadly died.  I did replant it and severely prune it in the back garden though and it has come back to life.

Autumnal front garden

Autumnal front garden

The little olive tree on the left has started to grow but nothing like the one in the back garden which even has some small olives on it.

I’ve re-attached the climbing rose to the house after it was necessary to prune it to paint the wall.  Hopefully it will grow back and if I can I will grow it out towards the front fence and weave it amongst the posts though that might take a few years to achieve.

The only thing I really want to do in the front this year is to oil the bench.  It doesn’t need it as the wood is already protected against the weather, this would just be for appearances and further peace of mind.

 

 

 

 

 

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Coronavirus Diary 69 – Baby steps with ministers and journalists

Last week I posted two articles regarding meetings with a government minister and trying to write for a newspaper.  I thought everyone would like to know that to a degree both went well.

Over the weekend I heard that the Independent Newspaper which is one of a number of what were once broadsheet quality newspapers (The Times, Financial Times, Telegraph and Guardian being the others) have accepted my first article.   I don’t think it in anyway sparks a career change but it is nice to add another string to my bow.    I have a second article to write for them one day soon.

Also my meeting with Oliver Dowden MP and Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport went quite well on Friday afternoon.  We spoke via Zoom for about 15 minutes.  He was very pleasant and interested to know more of my story (though I think he already knew the basics) and didn’t interrupt at all except to find out more information about certain aspects.

I’m not sure much will come of it for myself but he seemed genuinely saddened for my plight and he and his PA made notes it was clear some of the things I mentioned were news to him and he did actually say that he found it useful and it will help him and others in the future.

Anyway, it’s not every day you get to spend time with the 3rd or 4th senior politician and I did tell him that I liked him as a person but the governments policy is making life very tough.  I’m always one for being nice to people as you probably know by now 🙂

 

 

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Daniel Lambert – The heaviest man of the 18th Century

Daniel Lambert 1770 – 1809 was a gaol keeper (jail) and animal breeder from Leicester, England, famous for his unusually large size. After serving four years as an apprentice at an engraving and die casting works in Birmingham, he returned to Leicester around 1788 and succeeded his father as keeper of Leicester’s gaol. He was a keen sportsman and extremely strong; on one occasion he fought a bear in the streets of Leicester. He was an expert in sporting animals, widely respected for his expertise with dogs, horses and fighting cocks. In fact one of his dogs was said to be the finest in the kingdom.

Daniel Lambert

Daniel Lambert

At the time of Daniel’s return to Leicester, his weight began to increase steadily, even though he was athletically active and, by his own account, abstained from drinking alcohol and did not eat unusual amounts of food. In 1805, Lambert’s gaol closed. By this time, he weighed 50 stone and had become the heaviest authenticated person up to that point in recorded history. Unemployable and sensitive about his bulk, Lambert became a recluse.

In 1806, poverty forced Daniel to put himself on exhibition to raise money. In April 1806, he took up residence at 53 Piccadilly in London, charging spectators a shilling (about £4.20) to enter his apartments to meet him. Visitors were impressed by his intelligence and personality, and visiting him became highly fashionable.  He must have fared well as he would have up to 400 visitors a day and back then those of a large size were not sneered at or looked down upon but were rather admired for being a great physical specimen.

After some months on public display, Daniel Lambert grew tired of exhibiting himself, and in September 1806, he returned, wealthy, to Leicester, where he bred sporting dogs and regularly attended sporting events. Between 1806 and 1809, he made a further series of short fundraising tours.

During his life he was widely respected despite his obvious gigantuan measurements.  He wasn’t one of those unfortunate Victorian freak-show acts but was educated and considered, a businessman of sorts who mingled freely with high society and even King George!  He was known to  have walked 7 miles one day from Woolwich to the City of London and was also a swimming instructor.  Perhaps due to his size he disliked changing clothes and would often continue wearing the previous days clothes the following morning even if they were still wet.

Daniel's Breeches

An old photograph illustrating the size of Daniel’s Breeches

Other than his extreme size, he exhibited no other signs of possible conditions such as thyroid problems and it is is thought his extreme size was likely due to simply a lack of exercise and eating copious amounts of an extremely rich diet.

Whilst he was in London, Daniel was visited by Józef Boruwłaski, a 3-foot-3-inch (99 cm) dwarf then in his seventies and one of the last of the old fashioned dwarfs that would live at Royal Courts.  It was possibly the meeting of both the largest and smallest man in the world at the time and the pair worded out that the sleeve of Daniels coat had more than enough material to clothe Józef’s entire body!

In June 1809, he died suddenly in Stamford, Lincolnshire. At the time of his death, he weighed 52 stone 11 pounds (about 335 kilos) and his coffin required 112 square feet of wood. There was no chance of getting Daniel back to his come city of Leicester and so he was buried near to his site of death.  Despite the coffin being built with wheels to allow easy transport, and a sloping approach being dug to the grave, it took 20 men almost half an hour to drag his casket into the trench, in a newly opened burial ground to the rear of St Martin’s Church.

The grave of Daniel Lambert

The grave of Daniel Lambert

The rather weathered inscription on his headstone reads thus:

In Remembrance of that Prodigy in Nature.
DANIEL LAMBERT.
a Native of Leicester:
who was possessed of an exalted and convivial Mind
and in personal Greatness had no Competitor
He measured three Feet one Inch round the Leg
nine Feet four Inches round the Body
and weighed
Fifty two Stone eleven Pounds!
He departed this Life on the 21st of June 1809
Aged 39 years
As a Testimony of Respect this Stone is erected by his Friends in Leicester

After he died, the name Daniel Lambert was used to signify any great fat man and around Leicester and Stamford his name was adopted by many pubs as well as in other places such as Ludgate near St Pauls in London.

Lambert is still a popular character in Leicester, described in 2009 by the Leicester Mercury as “one of the city’s most cherished icons”.

A set of Lambert’s clothes, together with his armchair, walking stick, riding crop and prayer book, are on permanent display at the Newarke Houses Museum in Leicester.

In 2009, on the 200th anniversary of his death, Leicester celebrated Daniel Lambert Day, and over 800 people attended an event in his name at Newarke Houses Museum.

To read about an even more fascinating figure of the same era then do read about John ‘Mad Jack’ Mytton – craziest man in history! or Peter The Wild Boy.  And while you’re here, check out my new book!

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Coronavirus Diary 68 – Today I will be meeting with Oliver Dowden, MP and Cabinet Minister

Today is the day after 6 months of campaigning, witty insults, cutting comments and deliberate government discrimination and impoverished ness; I get to meet with a senior Cabinet Minister to plead my case and those of 3 million others #ExcludedUK

I’m sure I will be politely listened to and ignored as no-one really cares but for 15-20 minutes I will give it both barrels, in my usual polite and honest way.

Since February I have been unable to work not just due to the virus but in the case of tourism as a result of direct government policy and yet I don’t receive a penny of help or any form of assistance.  It doesn’t seem quite right when even criminals get free food, clothing, heating, accommodation and even television and social activities.

Me with Rishi Sunak this year

Me with Rishi Sunak this year

It doesn’t seem much to ask from a government who promised no-one would be left behind or without hope…. yet here I am left behind and utterly without hope.

Not even the opposition Labour Leader has ever spoken up. Maybe I’m just the wrong sex, colour, race, religion, class?  I know being a decent person isn’t very fashionable these days.

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