We popped into the antiques and cuiros market at St. Gregory’s Church, which lies between Pottergate and St. Benedict’s Street in central Norwich. Doktor Snake was really happy. He loves nothing more than poking around for old maps and antiquarian books.
In one of the glass display cabinets, there was a collection of tiny, slightly creepy looking porcelain dolls.
“What are those?” he asked me, noticing my interest. “Are they ‘the little people’ you keep telling me about de Belfry?”
Doc has been known to poke fun at me for my firm belief in faeries and sprites of the elements.
“No”, I said. “They’re known as Frozen Charlottes.”
“Isn’t that some sort of ice cream dessert?” he teased, but I wasn’t rising to his bait. It pays not to, believe me.
I filled him, saying:
“They were originally made mainly in America, in the Victorian era. They were manufactured after the publication of a ballad Fair Charlotte, based on a poem by Seba Smith called A corpse going to a ball.
“There is some debate over whether it was based on fact, but what is known is that they would be given to children as a cautionary reminder about taking the advice of your parents.
“The poem tells how Charlotte is invited to a ball by her beau. In her vanity she refuses to wear a coat over her pretty dress despite the fact that it is snowing, and freezes to death on the journey. We all know what it’s like; didn’t you ever venture out in freezing weather in not much more than your t-shirt and jeans? I know I did. Ah such is the folly of youth.”
“That’s a bit macabre,” Doc commented.
I then pointed out that what was even more creepy was that people took to baking them into birthday cakes, and often when they were given as a gift. They were presented in a coffin just to make sure that the message got through.
However, they also offer protection, and can be used as talismans. They are ideal for using in pocket shrine tins. The shrines can be tailored to whatever you wish, be it a love shrine, or a money-attracting shrine, for example, and are designed to be carried around with you, making it easy to take your magick with you wherever you go.
Doc and I are on the hunt for them, so they may appear soon, or if you would like to register interest, let us know. It may take a while, as we can’t guarantee sourcing them. But in future, we hope to find our own, when we go on a Mud Larking adventure (searching for treasures from the past along the banks of the River Thames).
(Originally published on PipDeBelfry.com – Frozen Charlottes)