In 1889 a lion escaped from a traveling show in Birmingham and ran into the sewers. When an angry mob formed, Frank Bostock, the owner secretly snuck another lion out the back. He then returned with the lion clearly visible and was hailed a hero. The escaped lion was still in the sewers.
On 2 May 1845, a bridge in Great Yarmouth, England, collapsed because too many people had gathered on it to watch a clown in a barrel being towed by four geese.
Bedlam, Bethlem Royal Hospital, may surely be one of the most famous psychiatric institutions in the world. Its been around since 1247 and is infamous as a lunatic asylum. In the 18th century people used to go to Bedlam to stare at the lunatics. For a penny one could peer into their cells, view the freaks of the “show of Bethlehem” and laugh at their antics, generally of a sexual nature or violent fights. Entry was free on the first Tuesday of the month. Visitors were permitted to bring long sticks with which to poke and enrage the inmates. In 1814 alone, there were 96,000 such visits.
The body of Richard III, infamous king of England, was lost for over 500 years before being found beneath a parking lot in 2012.
After the collapse of the South Sea company in 1720, which bankrupted many and severely affected the economy of England, a proposal was made in parliament to place bankers in sacks filled with snakes and throw them into the River Thames.
Before alarm clocks were invented, there was a profession called a knocker-up, which involved going from client to client and tapping on their windows (or banging on their doors) with long sticks until they were awake. It lasted into the 1920s.
On November 24, 1740, a 16-year-old boy was hanged by the neck for 20 minutes and survived and his death sentence commuted to exile.
There was a pro-drinking group in the 19th Century dedicated to harassing the anti-drink Salvation Army. They called themselves the Skeleton Army.