An Age of Excess

A Georgian bundle of fact, fiction and ‘orrible crimes

First presented at the Kelmarsh Festival of History for English Heritage this is a truly eclectic Georgian bundle that includes at least a little of everything if not more (and much inspired by the Newgate Calendar) :

I also draw on reports recounting the exploits of celebrity smugglers like Captain Moonlight and Dr Syn in their evasions of the Excise – or iconic highwaymen and murderers (not forgetting their gallows confessions)


A The Rummer

The wilder titbits of the age were the reports sold in flyers and pamphlets: gore drenched lurid crimes and executions; abductions and rewards; charlatans and sure-fire get rich schemes. Advertisements for public entertainments promised the exotic, giantesses, or freaks of nature. (The real story of the Ethiopian Prince – strange and unexpected – is a satisfying one…)

I have a growing collection of these handbills recreated from articles and advertisements in newspapers of the time – and usually bring notice boards freshly pasted with the juciest news and most appealing offers as well:

Truth or fiction? You really couldn’t make it up…

Dr James Graham

Mrs Hayes

Hear the the terrible stories of Anne Bedingfield and Mrs Hayes both burned at the stake for the petty treason of murdering their husbands; of Alexander Scott, tried for a false proclamation of War; or of Hannah Dagoe – who tried to take the hangman with her!

Anne Beddingfield

Incredible tales of the mystic East and farther exotic lands tell of new discoveries, so called savages and weird creatures – some with fur and beaks or trap-doors in their hides…

Of course, many much older stories of vanity, vulgarity, and acquisition; old men and young brides; greed and social climbing still resonate in an age of self-made men (and women…)

A life long Londoner I have a store of tales – both fact and fiction – to share about my city as it expands into the fields of Marylebone and Bayswater…

An Age of Excess