An Awful Crush

I have virtually nothing to say today, so I opened one of my (newly rebound)Annual Registers and found this account from June 27, 1811, about what happened when the Prince Regent opened Carlton House to the public to tour the interior. I’m abridging it greatly!

Yesterday being the last day that the public were permitted to view the interior of Carlton-House, the crowd from an early hour in the morning was immense; and as the day advanced, the scene excited additional interest….The gates were only opened at certain intervals and when this was the case, the torrent was to rapid, that many people were taken off their feet, some with their backs toward the entrance, screaming to get out….Lord Yarmouth and the Duke of Gloucester appeared, and announced to the public, that the gates would not be again opened…this, however, had not the desired effect….Those behind irresitstibly pushed on those before, and of the number of delicate and helpless females who were present, some were thrown down, and shocking to relate, literally trod on by those behind without the possibility of being extricated. When at last the crowd got inside of Carlton-House gates, four females were found in a state of insensibility, lying on their backs on the ground, with their clothes almost completely torn off. One young lady, elegantly attired, or rather who had been so, presented a shocking spectacle; she had been trodden on until her face was quite black from strangulation, and every part of her body bruised to such a degree, as to leave little hopes of her recovery: surgical assistance was immediately had, but her life was not expected to be saved. An elderly lady had her leg broken, and was carried away in a chair; and two others were also seriously hurt, but on being bled, were restored to animation….The situation of almost all the ladies who were involved in this terrible rush was truly deplorable; very few of them could leave Carlton-House until furnished with a fresh supply of clothes; they were to be seen all round the gardens, most of them without shoes or gowns; and many almost completely undressed, and their hair hanging about their shoulders….

Can you imagine it?

Now there’s an exciting scene for one of our books.

Have you ever been in such a crowd where you feared being trampled? I’ve been at exhibits that were so crowded you couldn’t see what you came to see, but this Carlton-House visit was literally a crush!

Hope you all have a splendid week and that no one trods on you.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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17 Responses to An Awful Crush

  1. Lois says:

    Hmm, crowds that could crush. . . it’s been so long since I’ve done anything in any sort of crowd that I can’t think of anything! LOL Ages ago we did go to Disney World (ah, geez, nearly 20 years ago now), they always have crowds, but they do a pretty good job with control. . . boy I sure need to get a life if that’s the best I can go! LOL

  2. Diane Gaston says:

    I hate crowds, something my husband and I have in common, so we tend to avoid such activities. You are not alone, Lois!

    I remember going to the Aquarium in Baltimore when our kids were young. We went with another family who didn’t seem to mind the crowds while the four of us were miserable. I can remember thinking that I couldn’t even see the d#*&m fish.

  3. When I was 15, my oldest brother took me to see the Alabama-Auburn game on a very cold and rainy November Saturday. We parked in a nicer area of the city and took the bus to the game, as was commonly done, so after the game ended we were part of a cold, wet, miserable crowd trying to squeeze through a small gate to get to the bus pick-up area. There was a long wait between buses, and when the next one showed up, so many people tried to surge through the gate at once that I was lifted off the ground by the press of the crowd. My brother grabbed onto the collar of my jacket and started shouting words my mother would never have suspected him of using around me. Everything turned out fine, but ever since then I’ve been nervous in any crowd that’s tightly packed enough that people brush up against me.

  4. Cara King says:

    I hate crowds too…but crowd control nowadays is a much-studied science, so we do generally avoid the sort of catastrophe described!

    For which I’m heartily glad…

    Thanks for the post, Diane! Though disturbing, it’s very interesting! (And yes, I can see a hero rescuing a heroine from such a thing, and all the interesting side happenings…)

    Cara

  5. Diane Gaston says:

    Ack! Susan. How scary….but were you for Auburn or Alabama? I can imagine such a crowd being in high spirits! Your experience reminds me of my son at about the same age and his friend getting separated in the subway station after a rock concert.

    Cara, yes, I’m glad crowd control is better. I’ve always wondered how they protected the contents of Carlton House during the tours.

  6. Elena Greene says:

    I also avoid crowds whenever possible. I don’t see the appeal of standing in line to watch a movie right when it comes out or getting up before dawn to partake in the Black Friday shopping madness. Few things appeal to me so much that I can’t wait for the initial excitement to die down.

    If I were to write a heroine into that scene, I’d think of special reasons she might have to be there.

  7. Judy T says:

    I also avoid crowds, though perhaps for slightly different reasons. When I lived abroad it wasn’t uncommon to find myself on a crowded bus. Unfortunately, a man tried to take advantage of the closeness. I stepped back, grinding my heel into the arch of his foot, then apologized profusely for being so clumsy. Silly me. In another country, I had a guy press against me shoulder to thigh, in a train, not crowded except that he seemed to want my seat as well, until I glared at him. I dislike public transportation more than crowds. In a crowd, I can maneuver away (being taller than average has its advantages), but on public transport, I’m trapped.

  8. Diane Gaston says:

    judy t, isn’t it the truth! I forgot about that risk of public transportation. I liked your solution and hope you were wearing spike heels! I’d like to think I’d say something loudly, like, “Stop touching me,you pervert!” But we women have been socialized not to make such a fuzz.

  9. O. M. G. Imagine spending hours at your toilette and arranging your hair, only to have your hair down your back and your gown hanging off one shoulder and no shoes by the time you reach the front door of Carlton House.

    Then again, having just returned from different parts of the world, I can imagine crowded environments where everyone and their father in in your personal breathing space.

  10. And JudyT, ditto feelings about public transportation. Yuck on those perverts. And yes, Diane, we women have to smile and take it and pretend it isn’t happening. But I loved Judy’s solution. The next time I’m in such a situation, I’m definitely going to do that. An elbow or a heel. Just the ticket. Thank you.

  11. Ack! Susan. How scary….but were you for Auburn or Alabama? I can imagine such a crowd being in high spirits!

    We’re an Auburn family, and Auburn won that year (War Eagle!). But, really, it was about 40 degrees and had rained steadily all day, so by that point everyone was equally miserable. Spirits not so much dampened as drowned and flooded out by frustration at the wait for the buses.

  12. Since I’m very short, I don’t like crowds at all! I can’t see anything and I start feeling very claustrophobic. Can’t imagine trying to get through a crowd wearing evening clothes and shoes!

  13. doglady says:

    I am only five feet tall so crowds can be very scary for me. usually they are more scary for the people who are with me. Then again, I have little sympathy for friends and family who say “Somebody look out for the midget, we don’t want to lose her.”

    The rowdiest crowd I was ever in was at the Italy vs Germany soccer match in Munich in 1988 or 1989, I think. Germany lost and about half a dozen of us singers had gone to the match in spite of the fact our opera coach had forbidden it. It was wild. They were tearing down the barricades and there were fights and arrests. It was beyond scary and the two baritones linked arms with me and lifted me off my feet and carried me through the crowd. Then we got on the train back to Salzburg and it was filled with Italian!

    Another bad venue in Alabama is anywhere near the race track AFTER the Talledega 500. I have never been. (I don’t like driving enough to watch people do it in circles for four or five hours.) My brothers and my Dad have been several times and they had some real horror stories about trying to get out of there.

    My condolences, Susan on being an Auburn fan. 🙂 Although actually you owe me condolences over the last couple of years!

    I have to confess that it was a real ego boost to have crowds of people come back stage after the opera. Even better, we went to the Mozart Cafe a couple of times after performances for supper and when we walked in all these people waiting for their tables stepped aside and let us go first and then when we got into the dining area (gorgeous restaurant – go if you get the chance!) the people in there applauded. They had all come from attending the opera. Very, very cool!

  14. Diane Gaston says:

    Omigosh, we have Auburn vs Alabama here! Fur (dog and cat fur, I suspect)will be flying!

    doglady, you and Amanda must be about the same size. I think I would be afraid to go to a European soccer match! But it is true that some types of crowds are nice!

    Keira, I agree. that the poor ladies must have been in shock and clothing wasn’t as easy to replace as it is now. I can just “see” them in the garden in various states of undress.

  15. Todd says:

    It’s sometimes easy to forget that even things which are not particularly “high tech” have been refined with time–like crowd control! It always amazes me that crowds can get so tight and out of hand that people are actually injured or killed, but even today you hear of things like that happening from time to time.

    Since we live in So Cal, we go to Disneyland from time to time, and it’s interesting to see how they continue to refine their techniques for handling large numbers of people.

    Todd-who-prefers-to-avoid-crowds-most-of-the-time

  16. Cara King says:

    Speaking of rowdy post-game soccer crowds… Todd and I were once taking the Tube in London after a major England/Scotland match in the World Cup…and they weren’t letting anyone off at Trafalgar Square, IIRC. They’d decided that one team’s fans could have Leicester Square, the other Trafalgar Square — something like that.

    The fans in Trafalgar Square set cars on fire, broke the windows of the Dillon’s Bookstore…I mean, come on, attacking an innocent bookstore? Way uncool. (And I bet those cars were innocent, too.)

    Cara

  17. Crowds resorting to hooliganims at the slighted provocation and encouragement is very scary. Disneyland is a great example of celebratory crowds that are well-behaved. Being at ease in crowded situations seems like an acquired taste. Also helps if you’re heaps taller.

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