The REAL Game of Thrones: Derbyshire’s gruesome link with hit TV series
With the new season of hit TV series Game of Thrones soon to return after a two-year absence, many enthusiasts have spent hours attempting to predict how the epic drama could end - even drawing their conclusions from real-life history.
Dynasties and conflicts that shaped Britain provided notable inspiration for the world of Westeros in the fantasy show - with everything from Hadrian’s Wall to the War of the Roses and Richard III being paralleled in creator George R.R. Martin’s plotlines.
Many of these characters and events helped forge the Derbyshire we know today.
But there is one particular comparison drawn from our county for which the real-life story is far more grizzly than its fictional TV equivalent.
And for this grizzly tale we turn to Chatsworth and the case of a wandering 18th century vagrant who, desperate for food, called uninvited at a cottage in Baslow where he found a hearty cooked breakfast being prepared.
After being refused a taste of the delicious food he became angry and poured hot bacon fat down the throat of the woman living there.
She died from the resultant internal injuries and the vagrant was arrested for murder.
He was sentenced to death by a particularly cruel and unpleasant method of execution — gibbeting — where prisoners were closed up in a human-shaped cage, suspended from a post and left to rot where all could witness it. As starvation and cold set in his desperate screams echoed across the estate where the Duke of Devonshire was staying. So unsettling did the duke find these cries for help that he helped introduce laws to ban the barbaric practice.
In Game of Thrones, innkeeper Masha Heddle is thought to have been a victim of the same punishment in the first book ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’.
Tywin Lannister has her hanged from a gibbet for allowing Catelyn Stark to kidnap his son.
The gruesome end meant the “birds had eaten her lips and eyesand most of her cheeks, baring her red-stained teeth in a hideous smile.”