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The Death and Disease team visited Pontefract castle which was the most important Royal stronghold in the North for many centuries. In 1399, King Henry IV deposed Richard II, who he imprisoned in the castle’s dungeons. Poor Richard was literally abandoned, and starved to death on Valentine’s day 1400.

Over 100 years later, Henry VIII 5th wife (Catherine Howard), stayed at Pontefract castle and is thought to have welcomed Thomas Culpepper (cousin of Henry’s second wife Anne Boleyn – is that a bit weird??) to her bedchamber. Needless to say, when Henry heard about her misdemeanours, he had both their heads cut off on Valentine’s day 1541.

So, Death and Disease asked if you faced the grim choice of starving to death or being beheaded, which would be least bad?

Interestingly, a whopping 72% of entrants love their food so much they would rather face the executioner than go without.

Paul was keen to find out if you would see the basket rushing towards you as your head fell into it (that question keeps me awake at night too Paul….lol) and Emma thought being beheaded after some ‘slap and tickle’ (aka Queen Catherine) at least had some element of fun…

Other notable beheaders included Ed, who was attracted to the grandeur of the occasion, and Ian, who was keen to make money from selling merchandise to spectators – we admire your entrepreneurship Ian!

Amongst the starvers, many felt that they would at least go to their grave looking thin (or “svelte and fantastic” to use Alison’s description of her day of death). Sarah’s cunning plan was to last a little longer by eating her own fingers, and Andrew lived in hope that a white charger would carry him off to the nearest pub at the last moment. Loving the optimism!

The winner

First into the head basket this week is Jane “I’d rather be dead than hungry” Willis. Well done Jane! ☺

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