|Squire Haggard’s Journal was conceived when I was a young reporter on the Northampton Chronicle and Echo in 1943. Our weekly companion paper The Northampton Mercury and Herald boasted the oldest complete files in Europe, going back to 1720, and once a week it was my job to descend into the basement where they were kept, and make an extract for the feature 700 Years Ago’. The old files were fascinating and frequently the chief reporter would have to send someone down to dig me out and return me to work. The thing that struck me was how dismal the old news was. It consisted largely of lists of deaths from such outlandish diseases as ‘griping of the guts’, news of disasters at home and abroad, executions and outbreaks of Plague. But then, in 1743 news was brought regularly from London to Northampton by a man on horseback with a couple of pistols stuffed in his boots as a protection against highwaymen…….
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