If you’ve been reading my books for very long, you’ll know I tend to geek out over historical details and love odd and quirky stories and coincidences in history.
My guest post author today, Catherine Hemmerling, also writes historicals rich with actual historical details (what a concept, huh?), and spices up her romance storylines with mysteries and suspense. She has uncovered another cool historical tidbit for you. –t.
I’m sure everyone has heard the saying “drown your sorrows” and while most people know that drinking is rarely a good answer to whatever is ailing you, this was probably never more true than in London more than 200 years ago.
The Beer Flood of 1814 is the basis of my latest book (still in editing and as of yet untitled) and I have done a lot of research on the event. At first glance, it appears to be an old, funny story about a flood of beer running through London that seems stranger than fiction. And it is, but I think it is also fair to call it a tragedy.
Here’s how the story goes…
One day in 1814 London, one of the massive vats of beer (so large they threw a ball inside the vat to celebrate its creation) at the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road burst and released tons of beer into the “beer room”. The vast power of the rushing liquid caused all the other vats to break open as well and a wave of more than 323,000 gallons of beer (equivalent to roughly twenty-four swimming pools of water) flowed through the building and eventually flooded into the streets of London.
It filled the houses and basements and knocked down walls, forcing people to run out into the streets in fear. Many people were trapped by the rubble and in flooded cellars and died in the frothy ale. Eight people in total drowned. Of course, most Londoners weren’t aware of the danger. They just saw free beer!
One after another they grabbed whatever containers they could and filled them from the river of beer running through the streets. Others simply laid down and slurped it up as fast as they could. There was no thought given to the state of the roads prior to being awash with ale. Imagine it…it could not have been clean. In fact, it was common practice to fling the contents of chamber pots (i.e. toilet pots) out of windows and into gutters. And yet, there they were freely drinking beer mixed with God-knows-what.
In the end, nine people died in the event; the eight that drowned and one over-indulgent person who died of alcohol poisoning. Funny and sad, right?
Many people sued the brewery, but the accident was deemed an act of God and the Meux Company rebuilt and continued making their signature beer.
I couldn’t let it go though. Maybe I have too much imagination (I have certainly been accused of such), but I had to explore the possibility of someone causing the vat to burst. And then I had to ask myself, why? This train of thought turned into the book I mentioned above. It isn’t available yet, but if you like the idea of real-life historic events being weaved into a story of fiction, then check out some of my other books.
And the next time you go out for a beer, be very glad to be drinking it out of a nice clean glass.
Catherine Hemmerling has spent most of her career as a technical writer in the software industry, but in the last few years she has realized her dream of becoming a novelist. Every day she pinches herself to make sure her new life is real. Living with her family in the hills of southern California, she spends her days devising plot twists, agonizing over titles, and making a lot of new imaginary friends; and she loves it. Lady Lancaster and her Garden Society have become some of her closest friends. She hopes you fall in love with them as much as she has.
Enticing Her Unexpected Bridegroom
Sarah Jardin has been quite dreadfully in love with David Rochester her whole life. As the youngest of five daughters, her family and society neglect her. She’s outspoken, brash, and terribly ungraceful. In short, not at all a lady…until she’s taken under the benevolent wing of Lady Lancaster and invited to join the Young Ladies Garden Society.
But Sarah’s new life—filled with the mysteries and intrigues of high society—is interrupted by an unexpected scandal. Her scandal. In a moment of kindness, David comforts her…and they are discovered and forced to marry. Even as the newlyweds must come to terms with their new arrangement, they find themselves drawn into the investigation of a dangerous conspiracy.
With life and love on the line, their unexpected marriage will either end in rapture…or ruin.