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Remembering Albert Midgley, Musician, 1892-1918

“It is simply appalling that two strong men of sterling character and great promise should be rudely taken out of the world.”  Fred Midgley 1918. Albert Midgely was born on the 21st of January 1892 in Perth in Scotland, the third son of English parents Fred and Alice Midgley.  The Midgleys had settled in Scotland in 1890 when Fred, a …

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Warning Words to the Wise, or, The Strange Story of Charles Henry Kelly

In the year 1883 a large detached house on the north side of Wandsworth Common was occupied by the Kellys.  They were a family of four, and prosperous enough to have two domestic servants.  Charles Henry Kelly, originally from Salford in what was then Lancashire, was forty-nine years old.  His wife, Eleanor, who came from Sheffield, was forty-one.  With them …

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The Witch of Moorgate

In 1821 Mary Calder, an elderly widow, inhabited a house in New Court, just off Moor Lane.  Renting out the first and second floors, she kept the ground floor or parlour floor for her own use, and supplemented her income by taking in washing.  Her lodgers on the first floor were a Mrs Walcot and her attractive and lively young …

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The Man with at least Two Faces, or, The Extraordinary Story of Arthur Wicks

Readers of an earlier post will recall Lottie Chettle, who worked in Louisa Gross’s barber’s shop in Chancery Lane in the late Victorian era.  She was born Charlotte Chettle in Huntingdonshire in 1873, but later lived in Swansea, and when she turned nineteen she came up to London, where she became entangled with a young man by the name of …

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The Walworth Tragedy: Were the Bacons Guilty?

On Sunday the 28th December 1856 Thomas Fuller Bacon and his wife Martha set out from their house at no. 4 Four-Acre Street in Walworth to visit relatives in Mile End.  They were not Londoners, and had moved from Stamford in Lincolnshire only a few months before.  They arrived at the house of William and Harriet Payne—Harriet was Thomas’s aunt—a …

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William Herring, or, Charles Dickens and the Medical Man of Quickset Row

Readers of this blog with a keen eye for all things Dickensian will recall that the great writer’s ailing pet raven, Grip, was treated and quite possibly killed by a local veterinarian.  He fed the wretched bird quantities of castor oil, which may well have hastened its end.  However, we should not for that reason overlook the veterinarian, because he …

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Caroline Crachami, or, The Sad Story of The Sicilian Dwarf

Had you been walking down New Bond Street in the year 1824, then at no. 23, which stood at the corner of Conduit Street, a sign inviting you to visit the “Naturorama” might have caught your eye.  And had you put your hand in your pocket, you would have gained access to an inner room with seventeen dioramas displaying model …

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Horror in the Strand

If you have read our earlier post on Edward Cross, you will remember that he was the proprietor of a menagerie in Regency London.  The menagerie, which perched on the upper floors of Exeter Change in the Strand, had many remarkable features.  None, though, was more remarkable than its resident elephant. The elephant—Chuny or Chunee—had originally been imported from Kolkata, …

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A Mysterious Death in Balham: Charles Bravo and the Housemaid

The place was Sussex.  The year was 1894.  Mary Ann Hills, née Keeber, a forty-two-year-old mother of two young children, Maud and Reginald, lay dying.  And, as her marriage had been spent in cemetery lodges, death had played a greater part in her life than in most.  Her husband had plied his trade as a cemetery superintendent, seeing almost daily …

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Cornelius Ahern, or, The Not-So-Artful Dodger

On a chilly March evening in 1849 a young man aged nineteen was making his way along the Edgware Road in Marylebone.  He was small, and of medium build.  He had dark hair and an oval face with a fresh complexion.  His eyes were grey, and they were peering keenly through the dark.  His name was Cornelius Ahern, and he …