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Answer 71. Major-General Thomas Harrison was a regicide. He was one of the judges at the trial of King Charles I and signed the King’s death warrant.

Other signatories fled to the American colonies after the restoration of the monarchy, but Harrison chose to stand his ground. He argued at his own trial that he had done nothing wrong, but was overruled by a court determined to find him guilty:

‘The executioner in an ugly dress, with a halter in his hand, was placed near the Major-General, and continued there during the whole time of his trial.’

Samuel Pepys recorded Harrison’s execution in his diary:

‘I went out to Charing-cross to see Major-Generall Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered – which was done there – he looking as cheerfully as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there were greats shouts of joy…

‘Thus it was my chance to see the King beheaded at White-hall and to see the first blood shed in revenge for the blood of the King at Charing-cross. From thence to my Lord’s and took Captain Cuttance and Mr Sheply to the Sun taverne and did give them some oysters.’


IMG_5068 WB YeatsIn 1896, a penniless poet rented two rooms on the top floor of 5 Woburn Walk  (middle of picture). Still a virgin at 30, he had fallen in love with a married woman and needed somewhere to seduce her.

Mission accomplished, the poet later rented more rooms and held literary soirees for his friends. One visited him here in October 1900:

‘Not far from Woburn Place, you turn down a side street and come to a long, narrow door, next to a cobbler’s shop, on the post of which is a tiny brass plate, beneath a bell inscribed with the name *******. You ring and wait until you hear steps coming down some squeaking, creaking stairs; the door opens and there is Mr ***** waiting to receive you.’

The friend followed the poet up to his rooms: ‘The window overlooks the tops of the little shops opposite and a tree or two, for the street is a poor one, where humble folk live and work and children swarm, where there is no carriageway and foot passengers alone can pass, it is so narrow.’

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 72. Who was the penniless poet who lost his virginity here?

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