230 today: William Bradley, 7ft 9in giant of the Yorkshire Wolds

An artist's illustration of Yorkshire's giant, William Bradley.
An artist's illustration of Yorkshire's giant, William Bradley.
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AT NEARLY 8ft tall and weighing 27 stone, William Bradley was a true colossus. They will remember him today in the Yorkshire Wolds on what would have been his 230th birthday.

Bradley lived at York Road in Market Weighton from his birth in 1787 to his death in 1820.

Giant William Bradley of Market Weighton

Giant William Bradley of Market Weighton

At 7ft 9in, he was the tallest Englishman ever recorded, the fourth son of a family of 13. His father John was 5ft 9in, and his mother Ann was of average height.

His brothers and sisters were of normal size, except one sister who would have been nearly as tall as William had she not died at 16.

He weighed 14lb at birth and by the age of 11 he was 11 stone. At school his teacher used to make him lift naughty classmates and leave them clinging to the crossbeams of the ceiling until he decided they had enough.

At 19 he weighed 27 stone and measured 7ft 8in. A year later he had grown another inch.

The Giant Bradley Festival in Market Weighton, where a statue was unveiled of William Bradley. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

The Giant Bradley Festival in Market Weighton, where a statue was unveiled of William Bradley. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

Bradley, who became known as the Yorkshire Giant, made a small fortune as a fairground freak, but confinement in a travelling caravan was bad for his health and later he organised his own more dignified shows.

At Windsor he was presented to King George IV, who gave him a massive gold chain which he wore until the day of his death.

When he died aged 33, he was buried inside the church for fear of graverobbers.

His strength, and particularly his appetite, were extraordinary, and it is said that he could eat a good-sized leg of mutton, with accessories, at one meal, with ease.

The plaque outside William Bradley's house

The plaque outside William Bradley's house

His presence is recorded on a wall outside his old house, with a memorial tablet recording the size of his footprint.

After Bradley had all but faded from memory, a small band of townspeople set to work a decade ago to raise his profile and now hold an annual Giant Bradley Day.