John Warde: an unspeakable grief

On the day of the fire, John Warde and his wife Elizabeth had buried their daughter Clement. And the following day they buried their son James. It’s just possible that the children were casualties of the fire, but it seems unlikely that funerals would have been arranged quite so quickly in the aftermath of the […]

Samuel Newman: butcher and brawler?

The year before the fire Samuel and his wife Mary had a son, Sam junior. The register of baptisms recorded the proud father as a¬†butcher. A 17th-century butcher wasn’t only a man selling sausages from a shop. He was a man with a good eye for livestock and access to good grazing. He would have […]

Elias Page: Living by his loom

The families who lost everything in the fire have left very little trace behind them. But using a few surviving scraps of evidence we can put together a fleeting, patchy impression of their lives, leaving our imaginations to speculate over the gaps… Elias Page was a handloom weaver. His father was a small farmer, but […]

The great fire of West Haddon, 1657.

¬†There were no local newspapers to report on a village disaster 360 years ago. The only reason we know about the fire in West Haddon is because the report of the Court of Quarter Sessions at Northampton Castle in the autumn of 1657 has survived the centuries. …upon the first day of August last there […]