A Night at the Opera: The Prequel

Remember the stateroom scene from A Night at the Opera? The same thing happened in London, at 54 Berners Street, in 1810. The Morning Post had the scoop:

> The greatest hoax that ever has been heard of in this metropolis was yesterday practised in Berners-street. The house of Mrs Tottenham, a Lady of fortune, at No. 54, was beset by about a dozen tradespeople at one time, with their various commodities, and from the confusion altogether such crowds had collected as to render the street impassable.

>Waggons laden with coals from the Paddington wharfs, upholsterers’ goods in cart loads, organs, pianofortes, linens, jewellery, and every other description of furniture sufficient to have stocked the whole street, were lodged as near as possible to the door of 54, with anxious trades-people and a laughing mob. About this time the Lord Mayor of London arrived in his carriage, and two livery servants, but his Lordship’s stay was short, and he was driven to Marlborough-street Police Office. At the Office his Lordship informed the Sitting Magistrate that he had received a note purporting to have come from Mrs. Tottenham, which stated that she had been summoned to appear before him, but that she was confined to her room by sickness, and requested his Lordship’s favour to call upon her. Berners-street at this time was in the greatest confusion, by the multiplicity of trades-people, who were returning with their goods, and spectators laughing at them.

And two hard-boiled eggs!

(And here’s another summary, and the hoax’s Wikipedia page.)