An accident at auction (1822)


In January 1822 a serious accident occurred during an auction in an unidentified cottage in Nunney.


On Wednesday 23 January 1822 newspapers across the country, as far away as Hereford, reported, “A ludicricous accident and providential escape occurred in the village of Nunney, near Frome, on Tuesday last.

Mr. Harold was exercising his auctioneering abilities, in disposing of some article in the bedroom of an old house, surrounded by rather more than 60 stout country people.

The moment his hammer was about the fall, the whole floor gave way by the breaking of the beam at both ends.

The company, (excepting four or five who suspended themselves on the door), with auctioneer, clerk, porters, bedstead, washing-stands, and the whole furniture, were precipitated to the room below.

The confusion which ensued may be easily imagined; for such a cloud of dust arose, as entirely prevented their discovering any mode of escape.

Nor was their cup of misery full – for, amidst the screams of the females, and the groans of the men, the door, with the party it supported, as it were in the air, came down, whilst the poor creatures below gave themselves up as loft, supposing the roof was falling in.

Those who first discovered the small window of their new apartment, and from their bruises were enabled, protruded instantly through it into the street, whilst the others were, after sometime, pulled out from the ruins by the neighbours who came to their assistance.

The exertions of all were now called to the relief of the person to whom the property belonged, and four of his friends, who by their groans were discovered to be in the room below, with the floor upon them!

Considerable time necessarily elapsed before the timbers and rubbish could be removed, so as to discover the bodies.

Astonishing as is the fact, the whole party were enabled to surround the auctioneer and congratulate each other, that not a single limb was fractured, although the bruises were very severe.

The worthy knight of the hammer was very willing to accede to the proposition of his company to dispose of the remaining bargains in the open street.”