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When the cat ate the canary

Posted in This months highlight on 18 Aug 2021

Many of our readers will have enjoyed staycations this year, and some will have welcomed the opportunity to take their pet on holiday with them. We hope no one suffered the same tragedy as these Victorian holidaymakers though.

Everything ended in tears for the Longland family after their trip. Gertrude, wife of the Revd Charles Boxall Longland (1862-1940), had taken her little boy Austin on holiday to Caldy, on the Wirral in the early 1890s. Unfortunately, as her husband relates in a letter to his father things did not go well:

‘Wify took “Domby” – her canary, we have had so long, to Caldy in order to take care of him - & the horrid lodging house cat eat him up to-day – jumping upon the cage, & devouring him before she could get to his rescue – having left the room for a moment with the window open. Poor Wify very sad about it – she was so fond of little Domby - & Domby was so well & singing merrily enjoying the country air. Thus sadly to him came the Finis! I am so sorry for Wify’s sake.’ (Document reference: D/EX2564/1/5).

The family later moved to Berkshire, when Charles was appointed to the post of vicar of Radley in 1898. He was also rector of Aston Tirrold, and served as Rural Dean of Wallingford, 1923-1936.

The collection is also notable for scripts and programmes of amateur dramatic performances put on by Charles as a child with his sisters.