Friday, 10 December 2010

Traveller lost in the snow 1775

From "The Life of a Great Sportsman" - a life of John "Maunsell" Richardson, written by his sister Mary 1919.

(This is a family tale. In 1775 Mr William Richardson, Maunsell's ancestor, had an unexpected visitor. Mr W Richardson was a gentleman farmer, and had a racehorse called Conqueror. Maunsell, Limber's greatest son, won the Grand National twice in the 1870s, and became an MP. - David)

"...There is an especially characteristic story told of the jovial of Conqueror (i.e. W. Richardson - David), which under similar circumstances could readily be accredited to his fun-loving descendant who forms the subject of this book. One wild dark night, in the winter say of 1775, or thereabout, when the snow lay thickly on the ground, and was still falling, a belated traveller riding along the road from Caistor saw the cheerful lights gleaming in the wide front of the old house at Limber, and riding up to the side door, rapped loudly thereon with his whip, demanding a night’s lodging, and to see Mine Host. Mr. Richardson, who at the time was sitting in his study, which adjoined the side door, heard this unexpected knock and demand, and at once came rightly to the conclusion that the stranger had mistaken his house for the inn for which he was evidently seeking. Being the soul of hospitality, however, and determined to rescue this unexpected guest, at any cost, the horrors of the night, he brushed aside the astonished servant, and courteously invited the traveller to enter.

One can readily imagine what a comfort the sight of Mr. Richardson’s smiling red face would carry to the cold-stricken stranger, and how he would hug himself for joy at the thought that not only had he found the inn he sought, but also one of the jolliest and cheeriest landlords imaginable into the bargain.

One can also imagine, too, how Mr. Richardson, having let the servants into the secret, with orders that it was to be strictly kept until the morning, persuaded his Dame to let him have his joke, and to absent herself from the evening meal, whilst he played his part as host, and (as was often the custom in those days) did the entertaining at supper himself. Then the racy stories he would tell, and how he would draw the stranger out all the time, chuckling all the while when he thought what an awakening it would be on the following morning, and his visitor’s confusion when he found out the trick that had been played upon him.

The story goes that Mr. Richardson brought out a bottle of his famous port, famous even in those days when port wine was the wine of the time, and men vied with each other in obtaining and keeping in their cellars the very best. One can see, too, when morning dawned, the unfortunate stranger coming down to breakfast, and instead of an inn repast, finding the stately figure of Dame Richardson, seated behind the historic Urn won for her by Conqueror and now smoking away for all was worth. We can picture his confusion - his apologies.

Whatever passed, it is tolerably certain, that with such a hospitable couple, the stranger would soon find that he had only exchanged his experiences of Limber House from the it as an inn to the joy of it as a country house, where he ever would be a welcome guest. And from all I have heard he and his host and hostess remained the best of friends to the end of their lives.


There is an old and trite saying: “Be careful to entertain strangers, for by so doing, men have entertained angels unawares.” And such, by all accounts, seems to have been the case in this instance...."

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