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A town in West Yorkshire, Halifax has something of a grim reputation, for it was once the only home in England of an instrument we associate with the worst excesses of the recent Terror in France: la guillotine. An early means of this form of decollation, called the Halifax Gibbet, was in use in the town until the middle of the 17th century. To make the punishment more terrible, if the felon to be executed had stolen a cow or a horse, it would be tied to the pin which supported the blade until, when the sufferer's head was in position, the bailiff would whip up the animal, the pin would be drawn out and the blade would fall.

Indeed it must be said Halifax had a poor reputation altogether for the harshness of its laws, especially towards the idle and undeserving, among whom there was a saying:

From Hull, from Halifax, from Hell,
'Tis thus,
From all these three,
Good Lord, deliver us.

The name "Halifax" is an unusual one and, according to scholars, in former times it was known as "Haliflex". This they say meant "Holy flax field". A flax field has as much right to be holy as any other location, of course, and yet somehow the idea does not strike one with instant conviction.

According to Lady Pole in one of her ravings, the Mr Redeshawe who was troubled with an enchanted carpet came from near Halifax [27].