Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #3

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #3
'Burial of the Marr family'

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 third vignette. It shows the interment of the murdered Marr family at St George's-in-the-East churchyard on the 15th December 1811 'in the shadow of the pepperpot tower designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor. In spite of the frost, crowds of mourners lined the Highway from early morning and at one o’clock the coffins were carried out from the draper’s shop at 29 Ratcliffe Highway, where the deceased met their end, and into the church where two months earlier the family had attended the christening of Timothy Marr junior.'

The pall-bearers are hidden beneath the black fringed drapes over the coffins - only their lower legs and feet are visible. beneath Atop the coffins are arranged black ostrich plumes in place of flowers.

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