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On Michaelmas Eve, 1544, two women came to blows in the open street in Winchester.

We know who they were. We know the approximate time (two in the afternoon), and we know there were plenty of witnesses. We also know exactly where the fight took place, for when the case came to court, the brawl was described as happening in the High Street, ‘under the Pentice’.

The Pentice is still there – a covered walkway in the centre of town, on the High Street, with some surviving Tudor-era buildings. Basically, the fight took place just outside Boots.

The Pentice The Pentice, Winchester. Scene of an altercation between three women, 28 September 1544.

We don’t know what started it off. The first we hear is a witness saying she saw one Mistress Foster strike at her neighbour Agnes Haycroft, ‘upon whom with the nayles of her fynger she had drawen blod’. Ouch.


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