October 3rd – The Festival of the Mob’s Injustice

Nobody lives in the tower at Dolrich’s Crescent any longer, but for many years it was inhabited. Nowadays the place is open to the public as a tea house, and before that it was a pub but it lost its license after someone got too drunk and fell from the top. As towers go, the construction is fairly remarkable; its cylindrical shape is formed of many diamond shaped stained glass windows, interspaced with expertly sculpted stone, akin in shape to the wire netting you get on some bottles of wine. Considering that it was built in 1523, the tower is a marvel of engineering, especially when you account for the fact it was built by one man: Triglaw Dolrich.

Dolrich was what we might charitably call an eccentric, who dabbled in all sorts of sciences, including those arcane sciences concerned with the occult and infernal aspects of the world. Yet he was also a kind man, who made his living crafting intricate toys for the children of the middle and upper classes, who mostly kept to himself. He was interested in everything, though was prone to sudden changes of focus, so his tower home was littered with half-finished projects; with coils and sprockets, half read books left open and bowls of dark, reflective oil left to moulder. Walking past the tower at night, the stained glass panels (which once depicted an eclectic mix of saints, scientists, machines and occult procedure, and, despite the occasional replacement, mostly still do) would still be lit at unholy hours, and strange noises might emanate from within.

Given his eccentricities and foibles, it was hardly surprising that, when someone accused him of keeping children trapped at the top of the tower, many believed them. It seemed that Dolrich had gotten into a dispute with a local landowner, Maggie Hatterat, about the toy which he had made for her son’s birthday (a small mechanical horse) which had broken when said son threw it down the stairs in a tantrum. Hatterat seemed to believe that she was due some sort of compensation for the horse, which she deemed had broken too easily, a suggestion to which Dolrich merely laughed and shut the door in her face. Not being a woman known for her temperance, Hatterat decided to start spreading malicious rumours.

It’s not entirely clear whether Hatterat was pleased when the mob threw Dolrich off his own balcony to a messy death below, or whether things had got out of hand, and progressed further than she wanted. Whilst there was some consternation from local people about the lack of due process, the law of the time was pretty clear on what should happen to people to imprison or abuse children, and it wasn’t far off what they did to Dolrich. The fact that there were no imprisoned children found in the tower didn’t really seem to matter; he had clearly magicked them away somewhere, he certainly had the magical apparatus he needed for it, there for everyone to see. Generally, local opinion was that they’d saved themselves a lot of bother later; who knew what other evils this wizard could have done?

They had a conversation about whether they should burn down the tower and all the apparatus with it, but it was decided that the tower itself looked too pretty to be burned down, and they could simply remove all the implements and papers out into the crescent to burn anyway. Besides, they were already planning a festival to celebrate ridding themselves of the ‘evil wizard’ and they needed the tower for that. In this festival, The Festival of Wizard Riddance, a male effigy with a pumpkin for a head was thrown off the top of the tower each year, making a very satisfying splat beneath, and then a bonfire was held in the crescent, upon which the straw-filled body was burned.

It was only in 1873 that anyone realised that Dolrich had been framed, when Hatterat’s diary was unearthed and read by one of her descendants. Ashamed by the actions of her ancestor, Dorothy Hatterat-Quingle set about publicising the facts by word of mouth and in her book My Awful Great Great Great Grandmother. Central to her argument was that the festival should be cancelled, as it was essentially a celebration of murder (few even remembered, at this point, the origins of the festival), yet there was considerable backlash to this, as the festival had become ingrained into local culture and identity. Eventually, partly because of pressure from other parts of the City, a compromise was reached; instead of an effigy of Dolrich being thrown from the balcony, one symbolising Hatterat would be cast off instead, and there would be a prolonged speech before the throwing, whereby the true history was told and posthumous apologies were issued to Dolrich’s spirit. The Festival of the Mob’s Injustice, as it is now known, has continued this way ever since.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Going Home Early
  • Tractor Engine Maintenance Day
  • The Festival of Laughing and Spraying Tea