' A Prize Fight.
I HAVE a vivid recollection of the notorious public-house at the bottom of Albert Street, which was the chief resort of bad characters of every description. There was a large room at the back of the premises, used for dancing, cock-fighting, glove-fighting, and almost every conceivable vice. Scarcely a night passed without something dreadful taking place in these quarters. Upon one occasion I witnessed quite a number of notorious individuals congregate in what was then known as " the Big Field," which abutted on Christ Church. Naturally curious, I watched to see for what purpose this band of ruffians had assembled. I soon found what it was. Staves were driven into the ground, and ropes were tied from one to the other, amid a tumult of excitement. Two men entered the ring, stripped to the waist, and commenced a most fearful onslaught on each other. Blood soon commenced to flow, and, egged on to revenge by the partizans, each poor wretch became maddened with rage. The sight drove me from the spot in terror to my home. This was no uncommon occurrence in those days.
AT Wroughton Feast, an annual festivity that lasted a whole week, it was the custom for many years for " the champion gip " to fight the best man who could be produced, for a purse of gold. The venue was the paddock at the back of the Three Tuns tavern, where the usual paraphernalia of fairs used to congregate in full force. The Feast always took place in the summer at a time which included a week of our school holidays. I was not more than seven or eight years of age when, without my parents' consent, I wandered over to Wroughton and, at the Feast, witnessed another encounter similar to that I had seen in Swindon.
This annual event always commenced on a Sunday evening by friends and neighbours from Swindon, Wroughton and neighbouring villages congregating at the Three Tuns, where, crowded inside and out, large quantities of beer and spirits were consumed. A miniature grand stand was erected for Feast Week in an orchard adjoining the paddock, upon which many of the elite of the neighbourhood, both ladies and gentlemen, occupied seats, and indulged freely in choice fruits and refreshments. '
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