On Monday 9th April 1787 many Campden people thought there had been an earthquake because of the loud noise and shaking. However, rushing out, they saw that a house had been greatly damaged and that the body of a man was about a hundred yards away. It was discovered that he was a relative of the people who lived in the house and with whom he had a disagreement. They were probably not at home – perhaps out at work, for the time of the explosion is unknown. They were all unharmed in any case.
The parish register shows that on 18th April 1787, 59 year old Thomas Hulls Miles of Aston was buried in Blockley. The record adds that he was “a lunatic blown up by gunpowder at Campden”. It seemed likely that Miles had determined to end the dispute by blowing them up. He gained access to their house and had brought in a large amount of gunpowder. It is believed that he took it up to the attic. Somehow his planned detonation went wrong for the explosives went off while he was still there and his body was thrown quite a distance. The damage to the roof of the house was probably considerable but the outer stonework remained reasonably intact. The interior was presumably in need of a great deal of repair.
The full details still remain to be discovered. It is likely that local gossip at the time might well have been illuminating but if anyone wrote it down the document has not survived.
We have discussed this topic many times but still haven’t got any further with finding which house – thought to be in the High Street – was involved. So if you live in the High Street, consider whether this might have happened to your premises and let Chipping Campden History Society know, please. And, one wonders, what other strange stories have yet to surface?