intro b4kxstp
dunghill or game
an absolute rake
suburban wits
charles dickens
the banality of the sublime
maps b4kxstp
rural middlesex

dunghill or game? or, turnpikes, horse races & further distractions on the way to tyburn

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chapter 1: a description of the traffic on the roads, footpaths and pikes to the north-west of London, connecting the capital to Islington and Kentish Town and the hilltop villages of Hampstead and Highgate on the Northern Heights, and from thence to neighbouring counties and the Great North Road; dealing also with some of the pleasures to be found in the roadside inns and the field resorts, ranging from the healthful taking of fresh air and exercise, the thrills of competitive sport, and the most debilitating vices: feat. the turnpikes; horse racing; the northern heights; Belsize House & park; ‘a scandalous, lewd house’; wheel barrows & geneva

chapter 2: an account of ‘the gentlemen of the road’: the men who robbed on horseback, though sometimes in alliance with lesser heroes on foot, relating deeds of daring and intrepidity and likewise of despicable thuggery; making also the acquaintance of some of the families that lived in the farmhouses, petty inns and cottages around the Battle Bridge and Tottenham Court, while visiting the local bear gardens and a cockpit: feat. the highwaymen; Dick Turpin; the bear gardens; gladiators; women fighters; the Gray’s Inn cockpit; 'on the account'; the Marshes, Tows, Lewises & Rhodes; some deaths & more scandals

chapter 3: the methods and manners of several local highwaymen, and of their professionally inferior colleagues (whatever their class origins) in the footpad gangs dwelling in the rookeries and roaming the West End of London (the streets, taverns and theatres of Clerkenwell, Covent Garden, Soho, St Giles’s, Marylebone, Bloomsbury and Holborn, and their neighbouring fields), some of whom graduated to horse-borne robbery and almost all of whom ended their days hanging by the neck on a rope (with also an investigation into the thief-takers who stalked them):  feat. Baker & Wager; another butcher; an heir & a bogus baronet; the Sutton brothers; rookeries & bad houses; breaking the gangs; ponds, fences & fields

chapter 4: the narratives, rituals and meanings of Tyburn as exemplified by the fates of four (plus one) cartloads of the condemned who one morning in the winter of 1737 passed along Holborn and the Road to Oxford to the gallows at what is now Marble Arch; about some of whom we already know much, their adventures and those of their fellows ranging beyond the hinterland of London to distant reaches of the kingdom and overseas, while connecting to very local circumstances and consequences; with other miserable and tragic tales: feat. the roads to Tyburn; the fifth cart; ‘dunghill or game?’; the gallows; further consequences

chapter 5: more crimes in the fields, but with also an account of the growing number and variety of pleasures and distractions to be had there, with new families settling locally as the metropolis awaits an unprecedented expansion that will in just a few decades replace the open countryside with streets of bricks and mortar: feat. the Adam & Eve; crime in the fields; pleasure in the fields; development in the fields, the Clerkenwell pleasure resorts


Scene: A tavern near Newgate.

Jemmy Twitcher: …Why are the laws levell’d at us? Are we more dishonest than the rest of mankind? What we win, gentlemen, is our own by the law of arms, and the right of conquest.

Crook-finger’d Jack: Where shall we find such another set of practical philosophers, who to a man are above the fear of death?

Wat Dreary: Sound men and true!

Robin of Bagshot: Of try’d courage, and indefatigable industry!

Nimming Ned: Who is there here that would not die for his friend?

Henry Padington: Who is there here that would betray him for his interest?

Matt of the Mint: Show me a gang of courtiers that can say as much.

Ben Budge: We are for a just partition of the world, for every man has a right to enjoy life.

Matt of the Mint: We retrench the superfluities of mankind. The world is avaricious, and I hate avarice. A covetous fellow, like a jack-daw, steals what he was never made to enjoy, for the sake of hiding it. These are the robbers of mankind, for money was made for the free-hearted and generous, and where is the injury of taking from another, what he hath not the heart to make use of?” Beggar’s Opera, John Gay (1728)


Tyburn gallows

excerpt from
dunghill or game?
or, turnpikes, horse races & further distractions on the way to tyburn

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