Friday, October 20, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Two: Lewes, East Sussex

Staying in South Street, across from the Snowdrop Inn which takes its name from a tragedy - the worst avalanche on record in the UK. Excerpt from Curious Sussex by Mary Delorme, (ISBN0709029705, Robert Hale Ltd - 1987) pp 39 -40:
On Christmas week in 1836 brought a heavier snowfall than even the oldest inhabitants could remember. All through he weekend it fell, and a gale swept it into great drifts, some as deep as twenty feet. Lewes was cut off, except by the river.
The owner of the yard warned those of his labourers who lived in Boulder Row to go at once to rescue their belongings, but they refused. By the next morning the overhanging snow had developed great fissures, and the cottagers were again warned and offered accommodation elsewhere, but still they refused.
Onlookers were becoming desperate; by a quarter past ten, two young men rushed into a couple of cottages and tried to drag out the women, still without success; hardly were the men clear again before the great wall of snow slid down, crushing and burying seven houses.
United in horror, everyone struggled; with spades and hands, labourers and gentlemen together – it was a mighty effort. There were six survivors, including Mary Taylor’s baby, shielded by her body. The baby was only bruised; Mary, wife of John Taylor, left ten other children motherless. Eight people died, that Christmas Eve, from an old man of eighty-five to a little girl of eleven. And the Snowdrop Inn stands, a reminder and landmark extraordinary.

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