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11 December 2017Frost Fairs on the Frozen Thames
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Frost Fairs on the Frozen Thames Nicholas Reed Monday 11 December 2017

There were four major Frost Fairs held on the Thames between 1621 and 1814. They were depicted by distinguished foreign and British artists, sketched in prints and drawings, and described in great detail. They are also depicted in a modern mural, and described in a modern novel. A wide variety of remarkable, enjoyable or scandalous activities went on at the Fairs. Various winter sports were arranged, after which one could eat or drink at coffee-houses or taverns set up on the ice. Bonfires were lit on the Thames to roast meat, souvenir leaflets were printed and a rich variety of Christmas food was on offer. Now that Somerset House holds skating events in the quadrangle every Christmas, a look at previous Frost Fairs gives us an interesting glimpse of one of the most dramatic events witnessed by our ancestors.

 Nicholas Reed

An art historian and archaeologist. In the 1980’s, he became Founder- Chairman of the Friends of Shakespeare's Globe. He is the author of four books on the Impressionists in England, and one on the Frost Fairs on the Frozen Thames. His latest book My Father, the Man who Never Was features in his latest NADFAS lecture, War Artists, Spies and the Art of Deception.