10 Facts About Frost Fairs Upon the River Thames

I’m happy to welcome back Caroline Warfield and the Bluestocking Belles. Today, Caroline share ten interesting facts about frost fairs and their new release, Fire & Frost.

1. The Little Ice Age produced a climate fluctuation that caused colder than normal temperatures worldwide from the mid 14th to the mid 19th centuries. It wasn’t a true “ice age” as in the age in which glaciers covered much of the world, but England endured a series of severe winters.

2. In addition to climate changes, differences in the river Thames at London compared to know made it more likely to freeze. The piers of Old London Bridge, for one thing, caused ice to jam up effectively producing a dam. Between 1600 and 1814 it was not uncommon for the river to freeze solid for up to two months at a time.

3. There are reports of activity on the ice dating from the 14th century. We know that in 1563 Elizabeth I ordered an archery field set up on the river.

4. The first fully documented frost fair occurred in the winter of 1608 when the Thames froze for six weeks.

5. Between 1608 and 1814 seven major fairs took place, but it is believed numerous more minor events occurred.

6. The winter of 1683-1684 was particularly severe. Lakes, rivers, and even the sea around the southern coast of England brought commerce to a complete halt.

7. Charles II visited the frost fair of 1684 and enjoyed an ox roasted on the ice.

8. The last and by most accounts largest, occurred in 1814. Temperatures dropped below freezing every night between December 27 and February 7. By the end of January creating a solid surface from Blackfriars Bridge to London Bridge.

9. Between January 25 and February 1 crowds began to gather and stalls and business sprang up on the ice. Tradesmen of all kinds hawked their wares. Fires were set up to keep warm, cook, and even roast full sized sheep. Rum, gambling, drinking tents were reported. Carriages drove up and down the ice. Dances took place. Games such as skittles and bowls were held. Paintings show swings, sled rides and skating. Not least, an elephant was walked the length of the place.

10. Folks prized one souvenir in particular, a printed ticket to prove they had been there. As in previous fairs, printing presses were set up on the ice to satisfy demand, and all sorts of ephemera was printed. The great fair ended February 5, 1814. It was the last one.

About Fire & Frost

In a winter so cold the Thames freezes over, five couples venture onto the ice in pursuit of love to warm their hearts.

Love unexpected, rekindled, or brand new—even one that’s a whack on the side of the head—heats up the frigid winter. After weeks of fog and cold, all five stories converge on the ice at the 1814 Frost Fair when the ladies’ campaign to help the wounded and unemployed veterans of the Napoleonic wars culminates in a charity auction that shocks the high sticklers of the ton.

In their 2020 collection, join the Bluestocking Belles and their heroes and heroines as The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans pursues justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with five interconnected Regency romances.

Buy Links

Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | Amazon (US)

You can find more about the authors and the individual stories here.

Bio

Award-winning author of family centered romance set in the Regency and Victorian eras, Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Her story, Lord Ethan’s Courage, appears in Fire & Frost.

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6 responses to “10 Facts About Frost Fairs Upon the River Thames

  1. This is so, so very interesting, it makes me shiver with cold just looking at the pictures! The book sounds like a very good read, and the cover is Beautiful, I love it!

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