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Eccentric Astronomer Dies

1974

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Astronomer William Granger was best known by locals as the man who walked around with a cat on his shoulder,  however, he should be better known for his astronomical work. A member of the British Astronomical Association from the 1940s, he took such a great interest in astronomy that he built his own observatory in his back garden in Priory Road. He also ran an astronomy club at Orchard Street School, where he was a teacher, and turned his bathroom into a darkroom to develop astrological photographs. William's wife Ethel was famous for her record-breaking 13 inch waist, which many people have attributed to William's fetish for wasp-waisted women. They appeared as quite an eccentric couple, William walking around with a ginger cat named Treacle Pudding on his shoulder, next to Ethel with her miniscule waist, piercings and extreme high-heels, however they were spoken of fondly by the people who knew them. William died in 1974 aged 72.





The Smallest Waist in the World

1967

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Ethel Granger holds the record for having the smallest waist in the world. Her waist was recorded as 13 inches/33 cm in 1967, a feat that was achieved by wearing a specially designed corset to gradually decrease her waist. Ethel became an icon for tight-lacing and her story and images continue to be popular today due to the extreme lengths she went to in order to shape and style her body with her specially-made corsets, flamboyant piercings and excessively high shoes. She even inspired a Vogue Italia fashion shoot in 2011 using Stella McCartney's clothing. Ethel lived in Priory Road Peterborough with her husband William, a local teacher, and their daughter Wilhelmina. The family were well-known astronomers and Ethel was a keen beekeeper, becoming president of the Peterborough, Oundle and District Beekeepers Society. She died in 1982.





Wothorpe Priory: Nuns on a Hill

1349

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Wothorpe Priory was situated in Wothorpe near to Stamford. It was home to a small group of nuns who lived in what is now, the highest point of the Soke of Peterborough. Records show that the priory existed in the thirteenth and fourteenth century, but the Black Death of 1349 spelt the end of the priory. All of the nuns had either died or moved away, leaving the priory in dire straights. So in 1353-4 the priory, with only one remaining nun named Agnes Bowes, was united with St. Michael's nunnery of Stamford. The land was given to Richard Cecil of Burghley House during the reformation. His grandson Thomas Cecil later built Wothorpe Towers upon the land. Considerable features remain in the surrounding fields which may be buildings from the priory, but the area is scheduled and in private hands. Reference: 'Houses of Benedictine nuns: The priory of Wothorpe', in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, ed. R M Serjeantson and W R D Adkins (London, 1906), p. 101. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/northants/vol2/p101 [accessed 14 November 2018].