View Post

The Mysterious Miss Muir: Actress and Model or Soldier and Thief?

Tuesday March the 5th 1889, and a fashionably dressed young man was to be found in the region of the Royal Victoria and Albert Docks treating some sailors to a drink in exchange for their inside knowledge about ships that would shortly be sailing to the antipodes.  With the information provided he looked for stewards on two separate vessels and offered …

View Post

The Walworth Tragedy: Were the Bacons Guilty?

On Sunday the 28th of 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 …

View Post

The Thieves’ Missionary, or, The Story of Thomas Lupton Jackson

On the evening of the 27th of July 1848—a Thursday—a remarkable meeting took place in one of the less hospitable corners of the capital.  The venue was in Darby Street in Whitechapel, in a house that by day served as a Ragged School for the local Irish population.  And those attending the meeting were just about as extraordinary a group …

View Post

How to Get Sent to a Victorian Reform School

Justice was quickly dispensed, and the trio found themselves appearing in the juvenile division of the South Western Magistrates Court on a charge of being in unlawful possession of a quantity of eatables.  They were lucky, as before the 1847 Juvenile Offences Act children under fourteen would have been tried in an adult court, and punished as adults, and even …

View Post

A Short Fuse, or, Robert Milnes Newton and the London Fireworks Brigade

On the 8th of November 1886, which was a Monday, a raggle-taggle mob of youthful defendants found themselves in the dock at the police court in Great Marlborough Street, just off Oxford Street.  The magistrate presiding over the proceedings was Robert Milnes Newton.  You may well recognise the name from the infamous trial of February 1895, when Oscar Wilde had …

View Post

The Bermondsey Ghost, or, Terror on Jacob’s Island

In the year 1857 Sarah and Charles Bacon were terrified by the strange happenings in their small house in London Street in Bermondsey.   Even Charles’s thirteen-year-old daughter Caroline, a sullen and resentful stepdaughter to Sarah, was disturbed by the goings-on.  For five days mysterious noises resounded at all hours throughout the building.  When Charles was at work during the …

View Post

Haunted by Sadness, or, Is 50 Berkeley Square London’s most Ghost-Ridden House?

50 Berkeley Square would appear to be an unlikely location for the most haunted house in London.  This elegant Mayfair townhouse on the west side of the square certainly does not look from the outside as if it would be troubled by disturbed spirits.  Its reputation is probably connected to the popularity of haunted house stories in nineteenth-century newspapers—for which …

View Post

The Bookseller’s Son, or, The Death of Henry Stanynought

On Monday the 7th of September 1835 a sombre meeting was convened at the Masons’ Arms in Titchborne Street, which runs north west off the Haymarket end of Piccadilly.  Sixteen men gathered to carry out their civic duty as jurors at a coroner’s inquest.  The coroner, with jurisdiction over the county of Middlesex, was Thomas Stirling, who was advanced in …

View Post

The Bookseller’s Son, or, The Crime of Henry Stanynought

That night―the night of Tuesday the 1st of September―Henry Stanynought stayed in the same room as his son.  They were alone in the house.  For a time, as the light began to fail, and the shadows lengthened across the floor,  Stanynought sat deep in thought.  Then, when the little boy had finally fallen asleep, he closed the windows and the door.  …

View Post

The Bookseller’s Son, or, The Sadness of Henry Stanynought

In Kensal Green Cemetery there is a grave where five members of the same family lie buried.  The headstone is rather featureless.  The passing of the years has stained it with a dark patina, and the shifting soil has allowed it to tip slightly to one side.  There is nothing about it that would make you stop.  Countless visitors to …