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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > January 2019 > London’s Little Ice Age

London’s Little Ice Age

Whenever the River Tames froze over, Londoners would take to the ice for the ultimate winter wonderland: the frost fair. Yet the carnival atmosphere was cold comfort to those who relied on the river to live, writes Sandra Lawrence
Helped by London Bridge’s narrow arches preventing icy water from flowing, the Thames’ frost fairs ofered a multitude of amusements
MAIN: The frost fair of 1814 was the last time that the river froze to the required depth RIGHT: At an earlier event, 18thcentury revellers play an icy version of golf
BRIDGEMAN IMAGES X3, GETTY X2, MUSEUM OF LONDON X1

Flush-faced revellers drinking, dancing, flirting and gorging around glowing braziers on a frozen River !ames. We can almost smell the ox being roasted, the apples being toasted, the ale being hoisted in this merry vision of Olde London Towne. And, perhaps incredibly for such a romantic notion, it’s largely true. Between 1309 and 1814, the !ames froze on 23 occasions, five of which saw ice thick enough to bear a full-on, traditional frost fair.

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About History Revealed

Today, Che Guevara is best known as one of the 20th century's iconic images. But the events of the Cuban Revolution, in which he was a key figure 60 years ago, would have wide-reaching consequences - including almost bringing about a third world war. What made it such a global affair, with superpowers going eyeball to eyeball? Plus: Cousins Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots have an almighty falling out (leading to one losing her head), outlandish medical cures, Roman Emperor Constantine, the great Thames Frost Fairs of the Victorian era, and more.