BURNING QUEEN VICTORIA

Hear ye, hear ye! Local historian Sydney Brundlecup here, with another wildly informative tale of past life in our fair town of Newton-Under-Wetherly.

As we approach another election of those parasitical republicans known as politicians, I thought it was high time I reminded the town that Newton-Under-Wetherly wasn’t always under the grip of “parliament” – actually, just over 100 years ago Newton still had very strong ties with the crown! (Please rise and sing the national anthem, readers. The Queen may be miles away, but she’s still our Queen and you better start showing some respect. Or Cromwell will come for you in your sleep.) To see what I’m talking about, why not link my arm (if you’re over 16) and take a stroll down to old St Drogo’s…

This church has more historical importance than the cracked tourist information stand would have you believe: not only does St Drogo’s hold the record for the most failed baptisms, but in 1901 crowds gathered to watch an effigy of Queen Victoria being paraded down the street just outside. To celebrate her death, the Newton-Under-Wetherly District Council, in cooperation with the Newtonberg Cake Factory, had spent months preparing a model of the monarch using wax, straw, dog hair and bits of cloth to construct a stunningly accurate depiction of her majesty. Contemporary reports write that the effigy was wanted around the world for wax museums, but Sir Rodney Trenchford (the current Trenchford’s grandfather and leader of the parade) replied always with the same words: “This un’s for burning.”

Months passed after Queen Vic’s death before the effigy was finally ready. Standing at an astonishing twenty-two feet, the model contained a small space inside for a man to operate its movable mouth and to speak through a large megaphone, to give the illusion that the gargantuan beast was addressing the townspeople.  Eyewitness statements recall “fleeing in terror” before the booming voice of the waxen monarch, who apparently issued such commands to the townsfolk as “bring me wine and the blood of oxen, or kneel before the mighty wrath of Queen Victoria, Empress of India”, and “Where is my Albert? Bring me my Albert!”.

At 8.33 pm on the night of the 31st October, 1901, the effigy concluded its tour of the town at St Drogo’s. The man operating the beast stepped down, and all the townspeople watched in eerie silence as the effigy moved gently in the wind – no longer controlled by any earthly being, but perhaps by a higher power (witnesses claim that they saw the eyes move and burn “with the fires of Hell and damnation itself”). Then, the District Council and employees of the Newtonberg Cake Factory moved silently in rows of 6 to the beast, and soaked it in petroleum. Rodney Trenchford himself then stepped forward, chanting in Latin, and lit the dreadful thing alight. As the 22-foot high monster melted in the inferno, the wind rushing through its carcass sounded like the screams of a banshee, and the wax coated the streets in such density that it would take four years to truly disappear.

If you liked this, check out http://issuu.com/ideastap/docs/nmtb_v7_hi-res for more of the same stuff.

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