Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The fattest pub in Newtown

I don't have the patience for local history. The delight of uncovering an intriguing little tidbit doesn't for me outweigh the tedium of wading through illegible council records and files.

So thank you and mad props to reader and amateur local historian Andy Ryan for having the forbearance to uncover a Newtown fact so charming that it almost endears me to a life spent in the stacks with my little white cotton gloves.

Andy reports that until 1901 the Marlborough Hotel was known as Daniel Lambert Hotel, improbably named after the world's fattest man.


Lambert's "sizable" reputation started in 1806 when he reached the weight of 700 lb (318 kg) and commissioned a special carriage to take him to London, where he charged one shilling a head to look at him. He apparently disliked the attention but needed the money to pay for the cost of having clothes and furniture especially made for him.

When he died three years later in a Stamford public house, his body could only be removed by dismantling a wall of the building. At his death, he weighed 739 lb (336 kg), with a waist measurement of 9 feet 4 inches.

According to Wikipedia, an apocryphal anecdote about Lambert is that he would visit the many pubs in Stamford and challenge visitors to a race, with the one proviso he had a small head start. There are many narrow passageways in Stamford that act as short cuts between the major streets. Once he was ahead, he would use these passageways and, because of his size, prevent his opponent from being able to pass, meaning he would always win.

Many years after Lambert's death, publican David Woodhams named what is now the Marly after him, probably to promote an all-you-can-eat buffet (okay, I made that bit up, but no-one knows what Woodhams' motivation was). There was even a mural of poor Fatty Lambert on the pub's exterior wall.

And thanks to another unlikely local connection, you can actually see a genuine pair of Lambert's roomy stockings on display this weekend at the Vanity Fair Christmas Vintage Fashion Market in Leichhardt.

Well, I never.

1 comment:

Sophie said...

That is awesome. I love his sneaky laneway tactics. Go Fatty Lambert! It's a much better name than The Marly. Bring back the Lambert!