3. The Great Frost of 1789
The River Thames has frozen twenty-six times since 1408, though the Great Frost of 1789 was perhaps one of the most memorable. Venturing out onto the thick ice, Londoners from both sides of the river set up an impromptu ‘frost fair’, complete with puppet-shows, roundabouts, dances, and general merriment. Others took the opportunity to engage in discreet subversion. A vendor selling hot gingerbread attached to his booth a board emblazoned, “No shop tax nor window duty”, offering the proverbial two-fingers to the burdensome tax regime of William Pitt the Younger.