Bread Prosecution

In 1917, wheat and other cereals were suffering from severe shortages; supplies were affected by poor harvest, reduced imports as a result of enemy action and lack of manpower.  The supply of bread became a major concern.  The Ministry of Food introduced The Bread Order which made it illegal to sell a loaf until 12 hours after it had been baked.  According to The Times, the government realised that stale bread was ‘more nutritious’ and would be consumed 5% less than fresh.  This was not popular!

“BREAD PROSECUTION. – Before the Bourne Bench on 19th Inst., John Henry Vaux, of Langtoft, was summoned for selling bread under 12 hours old at Langtoft on July 4th.  Mr. H. Kelham defended, and defendant pleaded not guilty, and denied selling a new loaf.  The Bench dismissed the case, the Chairman saying he would refrain from passing any comments which he felt very much inclined to do.”

Stamford Mercury, 27th July, 1917.


A Christmas Feast

One of many examples of a pre-Christmas advertisement.  This one is from a local butcher and features the image of an elegant family Christmas feast.

“Place your order now




for a perfect


Stamford Mercury, 5th December, 1947.



Never on Sunday

This old rhyme, resurrected in 1965, warns about cuttings one’s nails on a Sunday.   All the other days, bar Friday, seem preferable!

“Country customs have changed, and go on changing, but many of the ‘old wives’ ‘ tales still linger.  One I heard the other day refers to nail cutting, and goes like this:

‘Cut ’em on Monday, you cut ’em for health;

Cut ’em on Tuesday, you cut ’em for wealth;

Cut ’em on Wednesday, you cut ’em for news;

Cut ’em on Thursday, a new pair of shoes;

Cut ’em on Friday, you cut ’em for sorrow;

Cut ’em on Saturday, you’ll see true love tomorrow;

Cut ’em on Sunday, and you’ll have the devil with you all week.'”

Stamford Mercury, 29th October, 1965.

The Burghley Elephant

Traction engines were a fairly new innovation in the 1860s and the Marquis of Exeter was keen to keep up to date by having his own built, nicknamed the Burghley Elephant, but with unfortunate results.

“The ponderous traction engine, built by Messrs. Ashby and Jeffery, of Stamford, for the Marquis of Exeter, for the purpose of drawing heavy loads, and facetiously called the ‘Burghley Elephant’, has not behaved in a very tractable manner on its first appearance in public.  On Tuesday it was used for the first time for fetching coal from the Midland station-yard, and its first freak on entering the yard was partly to displace a large stack of coal.  With a great amount of management or mismanagement, backing &c., however, it steamed out of the yard with a little over four tons of coal behind it, in something between a railway truck and a stone waggon, without further mischief.  It proceeded all right then until it got near Miss Roberton’s, coach builder, where it again became unmanageable, and ran over a man and a vehicle standing in front of Miss Robertson’s shop : the latter was completely smashed, and the man, we are informed, received considerable injury.  It had a pilot in advance.”

Stamford Mercury, 20th September, 1867.

Not yet in harness.

Was harness maker Fred Gardner out on his stag night or purloining poultry?

“A Wedding Postponed. – Fred. Gardner, harness -maker, is in custody at Stamford on a charge of stealing five fowls, the property of Mr T. Croshaw, of the Bull and Swan inn, St. Martin’s.  The alleged robbery took place on Wednesday night last, and the accused was to have been married next morning.”

Stamford Mercury,  20th September, 1867.

Fecundity in Dublin.

A sad little story at first glance, but one that goes on to reveal the incredible family of Thomas Bentley, living near Dublin.

“BIRTH.]  Lately, at Drumcondra, near Dublin, the wife of Thomas Bentley, of a son, who died the next day.  This man is now in the 103rd year of his age, and attends the Dublin markets weekly with vegetables from his garden; his eldest son is 76 years of age, and his youngest in its fourth year.”

Stamford Mercury 16th October, 1807.

George Inn, Stamford.

The George was known as an ‘Inn’ in 1815, despite being used by the first families of Great Britain.  It contained many rooms, extensive stables and a large farm.  Mr Adams is sure to ask that any applications by letter be postage-paid!

“THE Public are respectfully informed, that the Business and Posting of this Inn continue to be carried on as usual.   Stamford, 17th May, 1815.

To be LET, and entered upon immediately,

All the above well-known, long-established, and excellent INN, called the GEORGE, in St. MARTIN’S, STAMFORD BARON, in the county of Northampton, late in the occupation of Mr. Fawcit; comprising 10 sitting-rooms, 38 bed-rooms, spacious kitchen, bar, laundry, larder, and most extensive Out-houses of every description, Stabling for 86 horses, and large Garden.

These premises have two entrances, are  most conveniently and agreeably situated near the Bridge in Stamford, upon the Great North Road from London, and possess all the advantages that can possibly belong to a large inn, which has for a great number of years been resorted to by the first families in the kingdom.

Seventeen pair of horses in capital condition are daily employed in the above concern.

Also a most desirable Farm, containing 267 Acres of valuable Land, in the highest state of cultivation, of which 17 Acres are pasture, immediately adjoining the house, and the reminder is about a mile distant, with Farm-house, Barn, Stabling, Hovels, and every convenience for occupation.

The incoming tenant will also have the advantage of taking the Stock in Trade and Effects at a fair valuation, if he thinks proper.

An opportunity equal to the above seldom occurs, as this is without question one of the first situations of the kind in Great Britain. – The Great North Road branches from Stamford to Oakham, Melton, Uppingham, Leicester, Deeping, Boston, Bourn, Lincoln, Peterboro’, Kettering, and Oundle.

Apply to Mr. Adams, Burghley House, near Stamford; and if by letter, pay the postage.”

Stamford Mercury, 14th July, 1815.

Naked, but not ashamed.

This disturbing warning was picked up by the Mercury from another publication.  Whether the sinister gentleman campaigning about naked ladies actually existed, of course, is a another matter .  .  .

“The following curious communication from a correspondent under the signature “OBSERVATOR,” appears in the Courier of Wednesday:

An Important Caution. – Ladies who are accustomed to wear their dresses extremely low in the back and bosom, or off the shoulders, are particularly requested to beware a person, who has for some time frequented all places of public amusement, and many private parties.  He is an elderly gentleman, of venerable appearance, and correct manners; his constant practice when he observes a lady dressed in the manner above described is, with an almost imperceptible, and apparently accidental pressure of a little instrument which he carries in his hand, to imprint the following words upon her back or shoulders, ‘Naked, but not ashamed.’

The stain is like that produced by lunar caustic*; washing will not remove it, and it becomes more visible by exposure to the air, so that nothing but a covering can conceal it.  It is said that several ladies were marked last summer at various places of fashionable resort; and that they cannot, even now, strip for company, without displaying this indelible stamp of reproof.'”

Stamford Mercury 12th July, 1816.

*Lunar caustic is silver nitrate, which was used as a cauterizing agent.  It stains skin jet black on exposure to light.

Longevity in Lincolnshire

Apart from their wonderfully evocative names, this piece celebrates the incredible longevity of the monks of Croyland abbey.

“When the famous Turkerul, who had been Chancellor of England, and one of the greatest warriors and statesmen of the time, retired from the world and became abbot of Croyland, he found five very aged monks in the monastery, to whom he paid particular attention.  Father Clarenbald, the oldest of these monks, died A.D. 973, after he had completed the 168th year of his age.  The second who was named Swarling, died the same year, at the age of 142.  The third, who was called Father Turgar, died the year after, in the 115th year of his age.  The two other monks, Brnne and Ajo, died about the same time, whose ages are not exactly known. though they must have been very old, as they both remembered the old abbey of Croyland, which had been destroyed by the Danes in the year 870.  These facts are related with much confidence by Ingulphus, who was abbot of Croyland, and wrote from the historical register of the abbey.  When we recollect also the very recent instance of longevity in Elizabeth Shaw’s case, who died at Keal Cotes, aged 117, the Lincolnshire fens are not to be considered so unhealthy as they have been generally reputed.”

Stamford Mercury 30th June, 1809.

Postal Improvements

In our days of instant communication, it might appear odd that over a century ago, the Royal Mail was very much NOT ‘snail mail’!

“Commencing on Monday next, 6th inst., there will be on week-days four deliveries of letters and parcels throughout the town instead of three only as hitherto, these will be made at 7.0 and 10.0 a.m., and at 3.0 and 8.0 p.m. A great advantage will be gained inasmuch as the letters now delivered at 12 will be received two hours earlier, and four-fifths of those formerly delivered at 7.0 p.m. will, under the new arrangement, be dealt with at 3.0 p.m. and the delivery at 8.0 p.m. will include all letters posted in the afternoon in the Rural districts served by Stamford, such letters have in the past been delayed until the following morning.  It is estimated that not less than 6000 letters a week will be appreciably accelerated.  The collections also from the various town boxes will be made more frequently, and will fit in more closely with the different despatches from the Head Office.  The first collection will be made between 4.30 and 5.30 a.m., and correspondence will fall into the morning delivery in the Stamford Town and Rural districts an the first despatches to Peterborough and London.”

Stamford Mercury, 3rd April, 1908.