‘Then was he forthwith quarteryd apon the scaffolde, and the next day his quarters set at dyverse places, and his hed apon a stake apon the galloss beyond saynte James. Which his hed, as ys reported, remayned not there x. days unstolne away.’
On the night of 21 June 1815, Mrs Edward Boehm held a magnificent ball at her house in St James’ Square. The guest of honour was the Prince Regent (later King George IV). Mrs Boehm spared no expense to ensure that the ball in honour of the heir to the throne would be a glittering success.
The festivities began at 10 p.m., as Mrs Boehm later recalled:
‘The first quadrille was in the act of forming, and the Prince was walking up to the dais on which his seat was placed, when I saw everyone without the slightest sense of decorum rushing to the windows, which had been left wide open because of the excessive sultriness of the weather.
‘The music ceased and the dance was stopped, for we heard nothing but the vociferous shouts of an enormous mob, who had just entered the square, and were running by the side of a post-chaise and four, out of whose windows were hanging three nasty French eagles.
‘In a second the door of the carriage was flung open and, without waiting for the steps to be let down, out sprang Henry Percy, such a dusty figure! With a flag in each hand, pushing aside everyone who happened to be in his way, darting upstairs into the ballroom, stepping hastily up to the Regent, dropping on one knee, laying the flags at his feet and pronouncing the words ‘Victory, Sir! Victory!’
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 25. Splendid stuff! Where had Major Percy just come from?
‘Immensely entertaining’ – Evening Standard
‘Hilariously funny’ – Melbourne Herald
‘Anyone with experience of Kenya, past or present, will enjoy reading Happy Valley’ – Country Life