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Historical Novel Society Review of Hodburn Wood


Real stories I came across in researching Hodburn Wood

1820 (May 26).—Died, in All Saints’ poor-house, Newcastle,

Thomas Matfin, aged 77 years. When a boy, and in St. John’s

charity school, he was supposed to have died. His school-fellows,

according to the then custom, attended to sing at his funeral. On

entering the church porch their voices reverberated so shrilly as to

arouse him from his lethargy, and he turned on his side to listen.

The underbearers, who were just setting the coffin upon the bier,

felt the motion, and in a fright informed the clergyman, who ordered

the lid to be unscrewed. On perceiving that life had returned,

he was immediately taken home to his aunt’s house in Low Friarstreet,

where he was wrapped in a blanket, and having drank a little

of some invigorating cordial, was put to bed, and soon recovered.

He afterwards became a keelman, and being, in his old age, turned

out of the keelmen’s hospital for irregular conduct, he became an

inmate of All Saints’ poor-house, where he died, as above stated,

and was interred at All Saints’ church by the Eev. Robert Green,

on the 28th of May, 1880.

In the grim chares of late 18c Newcastle

‘Aye, I’m a thief. I’m a thief,’ she screamed hysterically. ‘Please take me ti prison. Ye must.’

The watchman’s face, all pitted with tiny craters, scrunched into an expression of bafflement, showing the few remaining black stumps in his mouth. He laughed, splattering the girl with his malodorous breath. But before he had time to ask another question his head was jerked backwards stretching his skin tightly over his Adam’s apple. Becky caught sight of the man’s eyes, terrified and mad-staring like a cow’s at slaughter, then the glint of a knife as it slit his throat.


For those of you in Newcastle, you can now get Hodburn Wood in Waterstones!


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