View Post

A Criminal Converted, or, The Story of Ned Wright

In February 1894 three disreputable young men from Whitechapel were put on trial at the Old Bailey.  They had been caught one night on the roof of the Abbey Mills Distillery in West Ham Lane in Stratford, busily stealing ten hundredweight of lead.  A police constable, who had climbed about thirty feet up on to the roof, confronted the thieves.  …

View Post

A Constable Caught in his Cups, or, The Story of William Kitchen

There is an amusing story about a young London policeman that was a given a short paragraph in a couple of newspapers in 1872.  His name was William Kitchen, and he was in his early twenties.  He was a constable in C Division, which was charged with keeping the Queen’s Peace in and around St James’s. In fact to describe Kitchen …

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 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 …