Infamous deadly Derbyshire pistol duel recreated on 200th anniversary of shooting

The 200th anniversary of an infamous duel in Derbyshire which caused shockwaves across the UK has been marked with a series of dramatic re-enactments.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 11:47 am
Updated Monday, 24th May 2021, 12:31 pm
The duel begins
The duel begins

In 1821 in the garden of Bank House on West Bank, in the village of Winster, a duel with pistols took place between William Brittlebank of Oddo (the challenger) and William Cuddie, the popular village doctor.

It was thought Cuddie had been making advances to Brittlebank’s sister and the family resented it. The outcome was that Cuddie was shot and died next day.

Duelling was illegal in England at that time, so Brittlebank and his seconds were charged with murder. But William, the man who fired to deadly shot, jumped bail and was never seen again, leaving the others to face trial.

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At an Assize Court in Derby in August 1821 they were acquitted, an event that led to a great deal of resentment in the village and the publication of some satirical pamphlets.

On Saturday, May 22, 2021, the exact bi-centenary of the actual event, the duel was commemorated in a re-enactment in the form of a light-hearted street play.

The players and musicians moved from place to place, using several outdoor locations, including the very lawn on which the duel took place.

Government restrictions allowed for gatherings of up to thirty people outdoors, so publicity was carefully restricted to keep the numbers within limits.

The judge explains his ruling to the audience.

But audiences were good and there was plenty of barracking. Winster resident John Geddes said: "It was a really smashing event, perfectly pitched, and with just the right ratio of clever and cringe-worthy rhymes!”

Heather Flockton, a visitor from Higham, said: “Great entertainment! You all played your parts wonderfully. It took this to get us out and relearn how to be sociable again.”

The play was sponsored by Winster Local History Group. Collections for the local Jigsaw Food Bank raised a magnificent £520.40.