21 January 2018

The Last London Frost Fair

While I'm hoping we've seen it for 2018 today is, over the years, meteorological mid-winter in Ottawa, the day of the year with the coldest overnight temperature. That makes it an appropriate day to remember the frost fairs on the frozen surface of the Thames in London. According to an article in Historic UK between 1607 and 1814 there were a total of seven major fairs, as well as countless smaller ones.

The last one took place in the January of 1814 with the frost lasting from 27 December 1813 to 5 February 1814, one of the largest fairs on record. Booths lined the way from Blackfriars-bridge to London-bridge. Thousands of people enjoyed the entertainments, dancing to fiddlers, sitting round blazing fires smoking and drinking, even a parading elephant!

The end of the Little Ice Age and demolition of the medieval London Bridge which blocked the movement of ice conspired to end the opportunity.

I recall the exceptionally cold winter of 1963 was enough to permit skating on Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft, and an attempt to roast an ox on, perhaps more accurately over the ice.

1 comment:

Pat Jeffs, Bucks, UK said...

Today here, up in the Chiltern Hills northwest of London, we have just had our 4th snowfall since the beginning of December. That is about 3-1/2 more snowfalls than average. Four snows in two months is far from remarkable in Ontario, but it's a real pain when no one owns a snow shovel or knows how to wield one.