The Phenomena day coach was advertised to run from the Angel Inn, Norwich, and the One Bull Inn, Bury, to the Bull Inn, Aldgate, London, in fourteen hours. It set out from Norwich at a quarter to six. The proprietors prohibited racing on the part of their coachman. The rival coach, the Norwich and London Original day coach, started from the Norfolk Hotel every morning at a quarter to seven and ran to the Spread Eagle, Gracechurch Street and the Swan with Two Necks, through Bury, Sudbury, Chelmsford and Romford.
It was quite a family affair in East Anglia two centuries ago. This excerpt from the Norfolk Annals marks the death of Mrs Hannah Want, of Ditchingham, aged 106. “She was born on August 20, 1720. On the anniversary of her 105th birthday she entertained a party of her relatives, who visited her to celebrate it. She lived to see five generations, and at her death there were living children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren to the number of 121.”2
A brutal duel took place in Norwich. Just outside the city’s Ber Street gates, Sir Robert Mansel and Sir John Heydon set to with rapiers. The result was a severed limb, and a scrap that went down in Norfolk legend.
Heydon was a member of a distinguished Norfolk family, and a supporter of the Earl of Essex. Mansel was a naval captain who had been present at the sack of Cadiz in 1596, an Elizabethan sea dog, and supporter of Queen Elizabeth I.
The cause of their dispute was linked to the waning fortunes of Essex, former favourite of the Queen, who was on his way to rebellion and ultimate execution.
The two men fought on October 9. There were no seconds present. By Mansel’s account it was a vicious battle, which ended with Heydon losing a hand. The severed limb was mummified, and is today in Norwich Castle Museum.
As for Mansel, he was elected MP for King’s Lynn, his naval career went on, and he lived until 1656.
The new Beerhouse Act came into operation. At King’s Lynn “the day was kept as a jubilee by all the devotees of Sir John Barleycorn. Nearly 50 new houses were opened for the sale of beer, and drunkenness, rioting and fighting were prevalent in many of the streets.”
The Act liberalised the brewing and sale or beer, the aim being to make it more popular than cheap, rot gut spirits such as gin. Critics said it led to more alcohol being consumed. Certainly, a lot more pubs opened as a result, many of them named after the reigning monarch of the day, William IV.
The Cross Keys Bridge and embankment at Sutton Bridge, opened on this date, afforded direct communication between Norfolk and Lincolnshire and the North of England.
By these works nearly 18,000 acres of land were recovered from the sea. The opening ceremony commenced with a procession of carriages over the bridge and embankment, and concluded with a dinner in a marquee erected near the works. Three hundred guests were present, and Sir William ffolkes MP presided.
The current bridge over the River Nene, the third on the site, opened in 1897. It still carries traffic on the busy A17 road.