The Starring Lincoln Theatre Company joined Lincoln Castle’s Victorian Extravaganza for a surprise appearance on Saturday, July 27.
The following ensued…
Saturday morning at ten o’clock, a most dreadful robbery was committed near to the Three Cripples public house, Lincoln.
The particulars of the horrid case are as follows: A person of the name Benjamin Polkins, with every appearance of gentility, conversed with a strawberry seller when, upon disturbing revelation, he felt a twitch at his coat pocket. Standing in his shadow was a boy of a mealy complexion and a hair-raising air of deceit. The villain, without saying a word, made a guilty and panicked leap for freedom, clutching what was most strikingly the very same handkerchief his victim had pocketed hours before.
Mr Polkins, with extreme agitation depicted on his countenance, attempted to apprehend the boy, but the speed of his fraudulent routine was well rehearsed, and a chase ensued.
At the time the crime was committed there were several persons passing by and they, taking the alarm, ran after the thief calling out “Stop him!” The direction he scarpered, well-meaning samaritans in pursuit, was up the cobbles of Drury Lane, and he was soon lost to the incline and his chasers. Alerted to the cries in the air, two policemen, a Mr Gruffage Lawson and Mr John Sharpe stopped the despicable character in his tracks.
The boy was conveyed to Lincoln Castle Prison, where he will reflect, repent and reform before deliberations over his future and punishment.
The prisoner portrayed much weakness on being placed in his cell. He appeared exceedingly pale and, when spoken to, his utterances were barely audible. “Oliver Twist” was the name he gave. At first, officials understood his replies had the audacious motive of expelling guilt, despite attestations of witnesses.
Mrs Bedwin of Minster Yard told police she swore she saw another young person in close proximity of the incident. She “saw a boy in a top hat loitering about there, but he disappeared in a flash. Something in my gut tells me the arrested boy is not the more guilty of the two.”
Others reported a number of suspicious persons who “loitered with extreme interest” at the scene, but did not join the pursuit. A gentleman with a dark and threatening demeanour followed from the shadows, a frayed woman with a fierce expression in tow.
Adeline Droppfull, a regular strawberry cellar on Castle Hill, told police she heard the boys were linked to a wanted man known by the name Fagin.
“These are dreadful times we live in, poor children fall into the hands of manipulation and greed.” She admitted that she joined the pursuit and the boy’s capture with much determination and ferocity. “Everyone was so convinced. Who am I to question?”
PHOTOS: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite
Visitors at the castle got the chance to meet some of the characters in the upcoming Oliver! production at the Victorian Prison, where a host of performers and musicians also entertained and taught guests about the prison’s history and life in the late 1800s.
The show provides an experience like none other in the nave of the cathedral. It also explores themes which resonate today, such as exploitation, domestic abuse and social justice.
The event is run through the Lincoln Cathedral Learning, Arts, Culture and Events CIO and raises fund towards Lincoln Cathedral.