On 3 May 1660 a group of Somerset gentlemen met at Hinton St George, the home of Lord Poulett, a leading local Royalist. At one o’clock letters arrived from London, containing news of the meeting of the Commons and Lords on 1 May, at which the king’s Declaration of Breda had been read. The Lords had declared that, by the fundamental laws of the kingdom, the government should be by king, Lords and Commons and the Commons had agreed. 1 The gentlemen read the letters joyfully, kissed the royal coat of arms and went into the cellar to drink the king’s health. Lord Poulett sent out couriers with printed papers giving the news and summoned the parish and his near neighbours to meet him at the old warren, whither he sent ‘two cartloads of faggots, a hogshead of March ale, six dozen of bottles of claret wine, neats’ tongues, pies &c without number’. Around seven the neighbours appeared, bringing not only faggots but ‘substantial belly timber’. ‘Well the linen was spread upon a fair green carpet and upon that the dishes and upon them fell we first one round and then another.’ At that stage ‘the people thought it was now a time they might storm in and that they could not be merry enough for this news without being mad.’ They threw ‘fire into the faggots, wine and ale into themselves’ and their hats into the air. As darkness fell ‘so many bonfires appeared about us far and near that if we had not known the true cause of it we should have apprehended a general rising of the fanatics’, who, if they had chosen to rise, would ‘have catched their sturdiest opponents not napping but soundly asleep’. 2