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If Ma killed Pa, who'd kill Pa ? .... Mar-wood. It takes a bit of thinking about that rhyme, but it refers to Horncastle's most famous celebrity - William Marwood.
He lived most of his life uneventfully as a cobbler in Horncastle even if he did have some strange interests. His small shop, now a private residence has a blue plaque on it and stands in foundary lane opposite the church.
In his fities, he pursuaded the governor of Lincoln prison to let him perform a hanging using his newly devised 'long drop' method, which was more humane. Instead of strangulating them as before - and thus all seeing the 'dancing man' in the gallows, the longer drop meant that unconsciousness was instantaneous, death following after a couple of minutes.
He was soon in demand, travelling all over Britain and Ireland as the official executioner. He was so proud that he had cards printed and showed off his equipment and momentos at country fairs.
A throughly unpleasant and nasty little man.
Updated Mar 13, 2006
Despite the amount of times I have been to Horncastle, I had never come across the architectural feature known as 'Tom Thumb's house'.
There is another one (quite a bit larger) in nearby Coningsby, which I have written about under the 'Lincolnshire' section.
Both of them date from around the early 17th Century and consist of a timy one-room stone house place high up on the roof of another house.
The one in Horncastle is much smaller, and it would seem does not actually claim to be the home of the original Tom Thumb who lived to a ripe old age of 101. This little feature is thus just an architectural embellishment. Nowadays it sits on quite a modern brick building that is used as an Estate Agents. It is the last building on Wharf Road opposite the Ship inn Pub. If you can't find it, ask for information at the nearby Tourist Information Office.
Written Feb 3, 2006
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