If you’re feeling the cold today, spare a thought for poor old Elizabeth Woodcock, who was ‘buried under the snow for eight days and nights, without food’ (as if that was the worst of her worries!), at Impington, in Cambridgeshire’ in February 1799. She lived on until July of that year, ‘but her hands remain contracted together, in the act of prayer, and no art can move them.’
It was a bad month, particularly for those trying to travel:
The Newmarket road, near Bourn-bridge, was so impassable, that the coaches could not meet each other by 200 yards. The guards and coachmen carried the luggage and mails from the down coach to the up ones through the snow, and vice versa.
Upon the road between the hills a little beyond Farningham, in Kent, the snow has drifted to the depth of full five feet; so that carriages cannot pass without great difficulty.
The late partial thaw occasioned the road between Leigh and Bexley, in Kent, to be deeply flooded to the extent of a mile and a quarter; and on Sunday forenoon part of this water was so frozen as to bear a horse and chaise. In the afternoon it was with the utmost difficulty that two men and two boys, assisted by three excellent dogs, were able to get a flock of sheep along the above space in upwards of four hours.
A new invention was designed to help, though:
About Town Malling and Wrotham, in Kent, they clear the roads by means of an instrument called a Snow Plough. This is pointed in front, and shod with iron, and gradually increases to something more than three yards in width, being so continued in length to about six yards; and it is so contrived as, without disturbing the surface of the road, to throw up the snow in ridges on each side, leaving a clear space sufficient for two carriages to pass each other.
And if you’re snowed in and running out of food, never fear:
Dr. Rotherham, in his Philosophical Enquiry into the properties of Water, asserts, on the experience of his own family, that Snow will answer every purpose of Eggs in making Flour Puddings: the proportion in two table spoonfuls of Snow, instead of one Egg. This being the case, good housewives may give the usual regale at this season of Pancakes and Fritters, without paying for Eggs at the extravagant rate of fourteen shillings the hundred.
Anyone care to try?!
Sources: Morning Chronicle, July 20, 1799; Courier and Evening Gazette, March 2, 1799; Oracle and Daily Advertiser, February 5, 1799.