featured page placeholder

Scandalous stories

The stories told here cast light on the norms of society in the past and how such norms affected those connected with Winckley Square. In selecting tales to tell, we have tried to view the past through the eyes of those who lived at the time these events caused a stir.

The stories range widely. One is the ‘novelty’ of two ‘society’ women living together as a couple in North Wales. Their lifestyle led to well-heeled visitors, including Queen Charlotte,  travelling long distances to see this ‘alternative’ situation at first hand and then to use it as the centre of dinner party conversation. Another story touches on an issue debated today, that of legacy. Statues in the UK and USA are subject to intense debate about whether past behaviour should lead to the destruction of the effigy. In Winckley Square, a prominent figure, convicted of crime, was literally erased from history.

There are tales of death and of penalties for petty crime that are different to those that would be handed out today. What might seem harsh to us needs to be put in the context of the time. Local Corporations were unhappy at the costs of keeping prisoners in jail. In 1837 only 2% of sentences were for more than a year. Prior to 1853, no one could be sentenced to a prison term of over two years. The downside was they could be hanged or transported! 

Mayor Monk: Murder Suspect

Alderman Thomas Monk, former Mayor of Preston 1851-1852, was suspected of murder, accused of forgery and faced trial at Lancaster Assizes.

View full story

Nitrous Oxide – No Laughing Matter

Nathaniel Miller became a very successful and wealthy dentist from humble beginnings, but would two deaths in his dentist chair ruin his reputation?

View full story

Death in the Dentist’s Chair

When 10 year old William Smith was suffering from toothache, his father sought the services of Preston dentist Nathaniel Miller.

View full story

Petty Crime – Hard Labour

Three youths were up before the magistrates accused of stealing seven pigeons.

View full story

Ladies of Llangollen

Two women escape their respective parents who planned for one to be placed in a convent and the other to enter an unwanted marriage.

View full story

Poison in a wine bottle

Local historian Keith Johnson looks back at the tragic death of a 17- year-old boy, all because of a mislabelled bottle...

View full story