The common factor in all the cases was that the victims had drunk from the communal well in Broad Street. It had been contaminated with raw sewage.
Snow persuaded the authorities to remove the handle from the well’s pump. The outbreak of cholera was already waning by then, so it was impossible to establish for certain that cutting off the water supply had prevented any further cases.
Many doctors remained sceptical, refusing to accept that contaminated water had anything to do with cholera. Undaunted, Snow continued his research and was proved right in the end.
This is the old torture chamber in the basement of the White Tower at the Tower of London. In 1581, a famous Jesuit was tortured at the Tower, probably in this room, by being stretched on the rack:
‘He used to fall down at the rackehowse dore upon both knees to commend himself to God’s mercie and to crave His grace of patience in his paines. As also upon the racke he cried continually with much myldeness upon God and the holy name of Jesus.’
The Jesuit was tortured so badly that he was virtually crippled, unable to use his hands or feet. ‘He likened himself to an elephant, which being downe could not rise.’
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 112. Refusing to recant, the Jesuit was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 1 December. Who was he?
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