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Death of Variety Star Nosmo King

1949

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Mr Vernon Watson was born in Thorney in 1885, in his youth, a clerk  at Barclays Bank in Peterborough. His interest in the stage began with performances at smoking concerts and when, in 1911, he appeared at the old Empire, Leicester Square, he became an overnight success. He took part in many subsequent productions there and as a single turn on the music halls. At first he relied entirely on his voice in his imitations of the popular comedians of the day. His imitation of Wilkie Bard - exact in every way - was as remarkable a piece of virtuosity as the variety stage has produced. Among his favourite subjects were Harry Champion, Fred Emney and Frank Tunney.  His stage name Nosmo King was inspired by seeing two open doors at a music hall which had split the notice 'No Smoking' into Nosmo King.  He was later assisted by 'Hubert' - his son (Petty Officer Jack Watson) He appeared at the Embassy in Peterborough in April 1947 as Colonel Blimp in a G.I. Bride farce 'For the Fun of it' Though it was 39 years since he had been a clerk at Barclays, he still remembered his old friends in and around Peterborough. Mr Watson died at his home in Chelsea on January 13th 1949. His funeral was held at Thorney Abbey and he is buried at Thorney cemetery, with 'Nosmo King' on his headstone.    





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St. John’s Church Swaps a Bell with Leice...

1541

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In 1541 the great bells of St. John's church and Leicester Abbey were swapped over. It is not clear why the bells were exchanged, but the cost of the swap is detailed in the church records. Robert Newcome received payment for weighing the bells and identifying that one was larger. A man from 'Wyttlyllsey' (Whittlesey) was paid 20p for supplying 'a gable to tacke down the olde bell and hang up the new'. But they were only bit parts in the story. The bells had to be swapped over, so it was decided that the bell from Peterborough would be driven to Leicester, where they would collect the other bell and return with it. This was 1541 though! Four men including John Gedney and Robarte Allyn set off with 10 horses pulling a cart with the bell on top. They rested for the first night in Uppingham, fixed the cart and continued to Leicester. They stayed in Leicester for several days before making the journey back, stopping again in Uppingham. In total they took eight days for their journey, fixing the cart several times. All of the costs of food and drink were paid for, as well as their accommodation. Not to mention payment for their time. John Gedney was paid 5 shillings for himself and the hire of four horses. Roberte Allen was paid 14 shillings 'for 6 horsys and 2 men for 8 days'.
References
W. T. Mellows (ed.) Peterborough Local Administration Churchwarden's Accounts 1467-1573 with Supplementary Documents 1107-1488, Northamptonshire Record Society, 1939 p145





Cardinal Wolsey Visits at Easter

1530

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Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was an important figure in the life and politics of Henry VIII. A well-educated man, he became an advisor to Henry. He is possibly best known for failing to annul Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon. Henry wished for more children and wanted marry Anne Boleyn, but divorce wasn't an option. Wolsey tried to get the marriage annulled by the Pope, but this was unsuccessful. Henry was angry that he couldn't end his marriage and Wolsey was in trouble. His failure to convince the Pope was seen as an act of treason and he was called to London to face Henry. But Wolsey's health had been deteriorating and he never made it back to London. He did, however, make it to Peterborough. Peterborough Abbey hosted Wolsey's visit at Easter in 1530. He took part in many ceremonial duties including observing Maundy Thursday. As tradition dictates, he washed the feet of 59 poor men (the same number of men as his age), this was carried out in the Lady Chapel, which no longer exists. He also handed out gifts to the men. They received '12 pence, three ells of canvas to make them shirts, a pair of new shoes, a cast of bread, three red herrings and three white herrings and the odd person had two shillings.' (1) Wolsey travelled on from Peterborough to the Fitzwilliams at Milton for a few days. His health gradually faded until he died in Leicester Cathedral on 29th November 1530. One of his many legacies was the building of Hampton Court Palace, which was taken by Henry VIII after Wolsey fell out of favour. His visit was also remembered in an iconic LNER poster advertising Peterborough, designed by Fred Taylor. A copy is on display on the top floor of Peterborough Museum.
Reference
(1) W. T. Mellors, The Last Days of Peterborough Monastery, Northamptonshire Record Society, 1950, p xviii





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