Sunday, 5 October 2014

A bean-feast at Nanpantan!

The bean-feast

*warning* This is quite a long read, but well worth it! All weird spellings are as appeared in the newspaper report, but the embolden is mine!

This a fascinating account of an outing to the Temperance Hotel in 1898, where Samuel Potter was the hotel keeper, that led to a bit of a to-do! At the time of this affray, Bennett was landlord of the Longcliffe Hotel, and there were guests from Leicester staying there who acted as witnesses:

“A beanfeast at Nanpantan – Gamekeeper and trippers
From: Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, Saturday September 17th 1898, pg 6, iss. 4582

At the Loughborough petty Sessions on Wednesday, before Captain Heygate (Chairman), the mayor (Ald. W. Tidd) and J.S. Smith, Esqrs. three joiners of Leicester, Wm. Seward, Grassmere Street, Benj. Green, Walnut Street, and Edward Mansfield, Grassmere Street, were summoned for assaulting Joseph Elliott, gamekeeper, of Nanpantan, at Woodhouse, on September 3, and Elliott was summoned for assaulting Mansfield and Green at the same time and place. Mr Hincks appeared for the Leicester men, and Mr Deane for the gamekeeper. The first cases heard were those against Elliott, and Mr Hincks said that they arose indirectly out of game preserving. On this day a party of about 150 employees of the Great Central Railway at Leicester had their annual “beanfeast”, and went out at Longcliffe, putting up at the temperance hotel. After dinner some of them saw a hill (Bucks Hill), and it was suggested that they should go up. Seven of them, including Seward, Green and Mansfield, walked round to the other side of the reservoir, and finding a tumble-down gate went through and started up the hill. It was hot, and some of them soon had enough of it, and stopped. There was a plantation, and notice-board, not warning off trespassers, but requesting persons not to damage the shrubs and fernery. The men took this as permission to go in to the wood, provided they did no damage. When two or three of the men got near the top of the hill, a boy said the hill was preserved, and that they must not go up. They said “very well, we won’t go”, and went down again, stopping Mansfield, who was also going up. They sat down under the trees, and four of them commenced to play at whist. After about 20 minutes Elliott, the gamekeeper, came up, with a constable and another in plain clothes. Elliott told Mansfield he wanted the cards, and Mansfield said he could not have them. Without a word of warning the keeper flourished a stick, and struck Mansfield in the eye, and Green on the head. Seward was then struck and closed with the keeper and the constable held Mansfield down. There was no charge of trespass against the men, and no suggestion that they had been doing anything wrong to account for the keeper’s interference.

Mansfield gave evidence as to his part in the affair. He said he was knocked senseless by the blow, and, with Green, went to the Loughborough Hospital to have the injury attended to. He had since been an out-patient at Leicester Infirmary. Cross-examined: There was nothing but beer at the dinner. Did not know if there were 27 bottles of liquor brought with the party. The boy on the hill said they must not go up. Did not hear his companions reply that they would go for a little ****  like him. It was not true, when the keeper had asked for the cards, that they set on him, and kicked him for some time before the constable came up. Never saw the keeper struck. Did not know that in consequence of the conduct of some of the party a special messenger was sent off for an extra constable. Did not know that some of the party had been refused drink at Bennett’s, and had threatened to wreck the place. Green said he was organist at Plungar parish church and was a teetotaller. When he and Seward met the boy on the hill he asked if they knew they were trespassing, and they at once turned back, and went down again. He did not see the gamekeeper till he tried to get the cards, and then witness received a blow on the head which dazed him. The keeper afterwards said he wished he had given Seward and witness more, and added that he hit Mansfield by mistake, meaning to hit Seward. Cross-examined: when the boy said they were trespassing witness thought he meant the hill only, and that they did not leave the field. Did not see who’d struck. Directly the keeper’s hand came over his shoulder after the cards, witness started to get up, and was looking to see who it was, and before he was up received the blow on the head. Seward gave corroborative evidence, and said the policeman got him down and hit him. The keeper afterwards came up, held up his stick, and said he had the good mind to give him some more.

The next three witnesses were then taken out of order that they might not be detained any longer. Dr Claud Worth, House Surgeon at the Loughborough Hospital, spoke as to the injuries of Mansfield and Green. The former had a bruise and small cut on the lower eyelid, and the eyeball was bloodshot. Green had a scalp cut about an inch long. Both injuries were such as might be caused by a stick. Rev Bagnall, vicar of Plungar, gave evidence as to Green’s character, stating that he was a quiet and inoffensive chap. Dr Corcoran said he examined Elliott on the Monday, and found bruises on the head and nose and right shin. The man was still under his care. Hannah Clarke, wife of Thos. Clarke, Thornton Lane, Leicester, said she was with another party that put up at the Longcliffe Hotel. She was near the constable’s house, and saw the keeper and two constables go down the road together towards where the bother afterwards took place. She saw the plain clothes policeman go into his house, and bring out a stick. Bertie Vintars, joiner, Grassmere Street, Leicester, also a teetotaller, said that when the keeper attacked his companions he bolted and went to tell the rest of his party at the hotel. The keeper struck Mansfield without waiting for him to give up his cards.

The court then adjourned for half an hour.

Herbert Chapel, another joiner, said he was watching the card players when the keeper came up, and he got up and went off as soon as the blows were struck. Cross-examined: He went away as the policeman was coming into the field. He may have “trotted” a little on the way. Witness had not taken part in kicking the keeper and that was no the reason why he bolted.

Thomas Pearson, a foreman bricklayer, said that after the affair he saw the keeper, a constable, and another in private clothes near the hotel. The keeper had two sticks and witness heard the plain-clothes man say: “Give me that stick. I must get it away.” He took one stick from the keeper which had blood on it, and went into a house. When the other man came up the keeper held out the lighter stick, and said that was the one he had, but witness told him it was not. After the affair there was a disturbance, and the keeper was down and people were treading on him and walking over him. The policeman was also down, and there was a regular row.

Mrs Pearson, wife of the last witness, said she saw the keeper come from his house after the occurrence with a gun, and he said, “If Id had this double-barrel with me at the time I would have blown the five **** brains out”. Witness said she would have gone in for a “bunch of ten” while she was about it and he then called her a foul name.

Mr Potter, one of the proprietors of the Temperance Hotel, said he had been on the Forest 10 years, and had never seen a more respectable class of men than were in this party. None of them were drunk. Cross-examined: There was beer on the premises for them, which had been sent on in advance. The keeper and policeman came to the house to get a row, and they got it. Witness made no effort to help them.

Mr Deane characterised this as a trumpery and groundless case against the keeper. It had nothing whatever to do with game laws or game preserving. It was not reasonable to believe that without any provocation the keeper attacked all these men at once. If these men were so respectable, it was much to be regretted that when they found they were trespassing they did not go out to the road instead of stopping to play cards, and that when the keeper asked them to leave they did not go, but turned on him and assaulted him. It was a great pity that by acts of violence and lawlessness persons who went for a holiday should compel owners of lands and ornamental grounds to withdraw from well-behaved members of the public, the privileges they would otherwise be only too pleased to grant.

Joseph Elliott said he was under-keeper for Mr W. B. Paget. He received a report from a boy, on which he went to Buck Hill Rough, and saw five men under the trees playing cards. He went to them, told them they knew they were on trespass, and why didn’t they go away. He said nothing about the cards the whole time. Seward caught hold of him, Mansfield kicked him on the leg, and Green hit him. He struck Green and Mansfield in self-defence, and shouted to the policemen who were on the road, and they came to his assistance. Witness was hit on the face with a fist and on the back of the head with his own stick. Cross-examined: did not go down the road with the policemen, but he knew they were on the road. There was a noticeboard warning trespassers. In the disturbance afterwards the witness was knocked down twice, and got several “smacks”. It was absolutely untrue that he came out of his house with his gun. He never saw Mrs Pearson, or called her names. Was not the worse for drink.

P.C. Haynes said he was off-duty on sick leave on this day, and was not in uniform. He saw the keeper pass and then he and P. C. Pinfield followed him down the road. When Elliott called out they got over the wall, and witness stopped Mansfield as he was running away. When Elliott came up he had a cut and bruise on his face. Cross-examined: Did not fetch a stick out of his house. Pinfield said he was going towards the Convalescent Home, and witness said he would walk with him. They did not go because the keeper had gone that way. He saw the three men kicking Elliott.

P.C. Pinfield, who was on extra duty at Nanpantan on September 3, was the last witness, and in reply to the Chairman he said that he was pushed down in the subsequent affair in the Temperance Hotel yard, and that the landlord, Potter made no effort to keep order.

The bench dismissed the case against Elliott, and fined Seward, Green, and Mansfield 30s. each, including costs, or 21 pats, the Chairman adding that they considered the landlord of the Temperance Hotel would have better done his duty if he had tried to quell the disturbance, instead of looking on and making reckless statements about the witnesses.”
Hope you enjoyed that lengthy read!!


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