“Stranger,
here you will do well to linger; here our highest good is pleasure”
Epicurus

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Exhumed

October 28, 2019

In the sleepy village of Coxwold in Yorkshire you will find Shandy Hall, a house which dates back to medieval times and is enclosed by the tranquil gardens which inspire the Broken Clock Lingering Vodka story and recipe.

It’s a quaint village, where time seems to have stood still, but Coxwold has a dark and gruesome tale which is right to tell come the witching hour.

The neighbouring Newburgh Priory was established in 1145 on lands granted by William the Conqueror and was home to the Viscounts of Fauconberg in the 17th Century. One son from the family married Mary; daughter of infamous republican ruler Oliver Cromwell. Having triumphed in the English Civil War, Cromwell died in 1658 and three years later the Royalists – loyal to the King and now back in power – exhumed his body and posthumously executed the traitorous leader, stuck his head on a spike in London for 24 years and auctioned it off.

Rumour has it Mary paid a bribe for her father’s headless body and hid it in the rafters of her home at Newburgh Priory. The body has never been found but historians say that of all the claims to Cromwell’s final resting place this is the most likely. 3.jpg 90 years later, Coxwold’s most famous resident was author Laurence Sterne who had lived at Shandy Hall and had just published his final novel. Having suffered for many years with tuberculosis, Sterne died in London just 19 days after the publication of the book and was laid to rest in Hanover Square… or so everyone thought.

At this time, anatomical sciences were advancing at pace and with this came the grim profession of grave robbing. So it befell that shortly after Sterne’s burial, an acquaintance of his was horrified to recognise his corpse being dissected at Cambridge University. 4.jpg Sterne’s remains were returned to his grave. In 1969 his skull was recovered by the Laurence Sterne Trust and buried in Coxwold graveyard.

And so it is that within a stone’s throw betwixt each other we have the body of Cromwell and the head of Sterne, both missing a decapitated companion… and should one encounter the other who can say what a curious individual you might find roaming the Coxwold streets this Halloween.