Of Time and the City
Home News Team Media Info Press Community Links
click for audio
Community Stories y

Ringo The Ratcatcher of Fontenoy Gardens
by Tom Brennan
This is'nt the whole story of the title, just a little bit. I was born in Fontenoy Gardens, Byrom St, and did have a dog called Ringo and one of the interesting things I think worth mentioning (if I ever got round to sitting down and telling the whole story) is that Fontenoy Gardens and Fontenoy Street is one of the few places in England named after a British defeat in battle. I read this in the Echo years ago but have since done some research about it, the Irish helped the French (I think it was) at a battle in Belguim (I think it was). There is mention of the Wild Geese brigade or platoon at the battle which is also interesting.

What I find more interesting though is that I have lived in Brighton, East Sussex for years now and just down the road from me there is a 15th century graveyard, St Nicks, and in it there is the grave of a woman named Phoebe Hesssel who was wounded at the battle of Fontenoy it says on her headstone. I thought she may have been a nurse or a prostitute who followed the army to relieve the men in whatever way they needed relief. Turns out that back in the days of the battle (1754) a lot of women would pass themselves off as men to join up and get away from their circumstances. Phoebe had married a soldier whilst in the army, i would like to know how they kept their secret. What I do know, because it says on her gravestone, is that Phoebe survived her wounds and lived to the ripe old age of 108 under the munificence of King George (I think) before dying in the year 1822. To die at 108 years of age in 1822 must be unusual too when life expectancy must have been way less than that, she must have been a bit of lady old Phoebe.

Ringo, the ratcatcher in the title, died at about 11 after being run over by some speeding driver in the Bullring (St Andrews Gardens) where we had moved to when I was about 15, 30 years ago, jesus I'm getting old.

Enter your story

Back to main stories page

People's Stories

Latest Pictures (view more)

Latest Audio (view more)

Concrete Oceans
by John Reilly