View Post

Staring Death in the Face, or, The Atrocious Attack on William Day

If you read our article on the wolf that escaped from the menagerie in the Strand—the menagerie on the upper floors of Exeter Change—then you will certainly have felt sorry for William Day.  He was the trunk-maker living next door to Exeter Change, and it was his premises the fugitive wolf entered through a skylight on a stormy morning in …

View Post

A Star Shining over the Sea, or, The Moving Story of Greta Williams

If you read our post on Charles Henry Kelly, you will remember that he escaped an incident at sea after warnings of a supernatural nature.  He had been about to cross the Channel on board the SS Hilda, but decided not to at the eleventh hour, for reasons known really only to himself.  Strangely, there is a tradition that the …

View Post

Keeping it in the Family: the Infamous and Bigamous John Blair Wills

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT Sometime in 1850 a nineteen-year-old medic called John Blair Wills fell in love at first sight with a beautiful girl he spotted on a London omnibus.  Following the girl home, he asked her mother, who was very surprised, for her daughter’s hand in marriage.  He explained that he had good prospects and was of respectable stock: …

View Post

The Duchess’s Wolf, or, A Strange Story from the Strand

The morning of the 2nd of March in the year 1820—a Thursday just weeks into the reign of George IV—was a stormy one in London.  Between five and six o’clock in the morning the wind began to blow with great violence from the north west.  As darkness lifted the wind grew stronger, until it was gusting enough to inflict damage …

View Post

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 …

View Post

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 …

View Post

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 …

View Post

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 …

View Post

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 …

View Post

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 …