Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #1

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #1
'Death of a Linen Draper'

At the beginning of the month I was asked by the Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life ( and publishers Faber & Faber ( to produce a map marking the bicentinary this month of the horrific Ratcliffe Highway Murders (December 1811), with vignettes indicating the location and dates of the pertinent events as their anniversaries occurred.

The vignettes were inspired by the book investigating the case 'The Maul and the Pear Tree', by P.D.James & T.A.Critchley, first published by Faber in 1971.

The map beneath was an 1811 map of the area, provided for me by the wonderful Stefan Dickers, archivist at the Bishopsgate Institute.

This is the first vignette. It commemorates the discovery of the brutally murdered corpses of young linen-draper Timothy Marr, his wife Celia, their two-month old child Timothy Jnr and the Marr's shop assistant James Gowan. The adults' skulls had all been violently stoved in and the infant's throat slit so that its head was almost severed from its body.

At the door stands the Marr's servant Margaret Jewell, who was sent out to buy oysters at the time the family was slain, night watchman George Olney with his lamp aloft and the Marr's next door neighbour pawnbroker John Murray emerging from the front door, having found the mutilated cadavers on the shop floor. He is recorded to have cried 'Murder! Murder! Come and see what murder is here!

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