Gaskell Blog © Katherine C.
… when Wombwell came to Cranford, because Miss Matty had wanted to see an elephant in order that she might the better imagine Peter riding on one; and had seen a boa-constrictor too, which was more than she wished to imagine in her fancy-pictures of Peter’s locality
This passage refers to Wombwell’s Travelling Menagerie. A tour started by George Wombwell in 1810.He purchased exotic animals from Africa, Australia, and South America. The menagerie included elephants, giraffes, leopards, six lions, boa constrictors, panthers, three tigers, and zebras to name a few.
Can you imagine such ferocious creatures in the midst of Cranford! …although I suppose Miss Jenkyns was more than a match for them.